Volunteer Spotlight: Joel Walker


You may recognize Joel as the guy who rides his bike to Project Angel Heart twice a week. He chops tons of veggies (literally) as part of the Tuesday afternoon kitchen crew, and also helps our distribution team organize Friday delivery routes. About 30% of our clients receive their food on Fridays, and this distribution shift organizes hundreds of meal bags, breakfast bags, and supplementary milk and fruit items prior to delivery.  

Q: How long have you been volunteering with Project Angel Heart?

This is my tenth year volunteering at Project Angel Heart.

Joel sorting meal bags for delivery on Friday morning.

Q: Why and how did you decide to get involved?

I first learned about Project Angel Heart 15 years ago when my wife and I happened to be at a restaurant that was participating in Dining Out For Life®. Having friends and family impacted by HIV, their mission resonated with me. When I retired and began looking for new pursuits, Project Angel Heart was the first place I turned.

 Q: You volunteer both in the Kitchen on Tuesdays and Distribution on Fridays. What’s your favorite aspect of each role?

As an amateur chef, I enjoy working with the professionals in the kitchen and picking their brains. Working in Distribution requires some attention to detail so it’s one of the few times that I can actually put my OCD tendencies to use (without annoying my wife).  But overall, spending time at Project Angel Heart means being around friendly, interesting volunteers and staff, that are brought together by a common desire to do some good.  

Q: Any interesting anecdotes, or something you think other volunteers/supporters would be surprised to know about your volunteer roles?

When I first started volunteering I tried a number of different kitchen shifts, trying to get a feel for the different tasks and looking for the best fit for me. Since then I’ve worked every day of the week on almost every kitchen and distribution shift including Friday and Saturday distribution and deliveries. It’s given me a familiarity with every step in the process and a real appreciation for how critical volunteers are to Project Angel Heart.

Q: Do you have a favorite Project Angel Heart memory? 

Delivering meals on a snowy Saturday, I had a client who was amazed and greatly relieved that her meals made it to her despite the weather. Her extreme gratitude reminded me how important Project Angel Heart is to so many people and how many volunteers and staff it really took to provide her with those meals.

Q: What’s your favorite food?  

Is craft beer a food?  At Project Angel Heart it’s Chef Summer’s desserts, otherwise it’s all things Mexican.  

Matt Nigro is Project Angel Heart’s distribution coordinator. Previously, Matt spent three years working at Food Bank of the Rockies, where he served hundreds of partner agencies- including Project Angel Heart. Originally from Aurora, Matt is a Colorado native, but mostly grew up in Massachusetts before making his way back in 2012. He studied Communications and History at UMass Amherst and, in 2015, had the opportunity to live and work on several organic farms across Italy, where he fell in love with the sustainable lifestyles. In his free time Matt enjoys painting, reading, hiking, rooting for the Broncos and Avs, and volunteering at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO.