BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Guild House Restaurant has been donating to mental health resources since 1956. Volunteers are crucial for the nonprofit to function. With the COVID-19 pandemic though, they’ve found themselves in need of more helping hands.
Customers dine at The Guild House like any other restaurant, but at the end of the day, all profits are donated to the Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, a mental health service for children and families.
Guild House president Mary Vanderwerff says they donate at least $40,000 a year, and that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers.
“The backbone of our organization is volunteers. Everyone has different talents that they bring and there are several jobs there that can be done," she said.
The Guild House has been closed since March when COVID-19 hit. The restaurant will be reopening on September 8, but many of its volunteers are hesitant to return.
“We have a lot of volunteers and the COVID uncertainty has caused them, some of them, to want to maybe come back at a later date," said Vanderwerff.
But the nonprofit still wants to make its annual $40,000 donation, which is why the Guild House is hosting a volunteer recruitment event on Saturday, with face masks and social distancing. Previous volunteers will share their experiences and explain how it’s not just about the work they do.
“They get to be kind of like a family, so it’s a very, it’s a very supportive organization," said Vanderwerff.
Volunteers fill positions like waiters, hostesses and chefs. Those interested in joining don’t need any previous experience, just the desire to learn and help.
“It’s the volunteering, the comradery, the learning a new skill, perhaps," said Vanderwerff.
With these volunteers, the organization plans to offer outdoor dining and a new take-out menu. All in an effort to welcome back customers and continue serving the community as a nonprofit organization.
“We just want people to come back. We just want people to, you know, maybe to try our take-out, to maybe come and try eating outside because it’s going to be way, way different for us and we’ve had a lot of people working really hard to try to make this work," said Vanderwerff.
The recruitment event will be at the Guild House on Saturday at 10 a.m. If you'd like to attend, you can RSVP here.