Harvest House staff, volunteers give back

Tina Harbuck
Jo Ann VanGronigen, 83, has been volunteering at the Harvest House since 2013 and loves it. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

Some have volunteered for years while others have been on staff for just a few weeks, but the sentiment is the same — it’s a chance to give back.

Sonoma Clampit moved to Destin a couple of years ago from Austin, Texas, and spotted the Harvest House while driving around with a friend.

“The moment I walked in, I realized I wanted to volunteer here. I just loved the atmosphere,” Clampit said.

And after a few weeks as a volunteer, she was hired on as staff.

“We’re blessed to have her,” said Lori Joyner, executive director of the Harvest House.

“It just kind of made me fall in love with Destin even more because it connected me to the community. It’s a chance to give back,” Clampit said. “I feel lucky to be a part of it.”

Clampit is just one of many women on staff.

“Our whole staff is women,” Joyner said, noting they do have a few guys that volunteer their time.

The oldest volunteer at the House is 83-year-old Jo Ann VanGronigen, who can be found upstairs in the boutique area sporting a badge that says “Jo Ann - 2013,” which is how long she has been serving.

“I’ve always worked ... and I like to be with people,” VanGronigen said. “I think it’s important to be with people at my age. And here they do such great work ... they are kind generous people. So that’s why I’m here.”

Her job at the House — bags.

“I’m the bag lady,” she said. “I smooth all the bags out.”

Joyner was quick to say VanGronigen’s job is vital to the work they do at the House. She explained they ask people to bring in bags all the time and VanGronigen makes sure they are straight with no holes before they go downstairs to bag up items.

“Everything is important at the Harvest House,” Joyner said.

Although the task seems small, VanGronigen said, “I love what I’m doing and I’ve met such wonderful people.”

VanGronigen volunteers her time four days a week and encourages others to try it for even a couple of hours.

“It does such wonders for you and it’s vitally important,” she said.