I always talk about volunteering at the food pantry and how giving back is fun for me. I grew up in the Caribbean and as a child, my family always had food on the table, but many people in my village did not. My parents constantly gave back, feeding people and every Sunday we would have a community dinner for everyone. They always stressed to me the importance of sharing—they told me that if I have something, I should share it with those who don’t. When I moved to the United States, I carried my parent’s words with me and continued to help my community.
After many years of working at Sodexo, the supportive group that I work with continues to influence my passion for the fight against hunger and other causes. If I am ever late for work on Tuesdays, everyone knows that it’s because I’m at the food pantry, sorting food and packing meal boxes for families and individuals in need. My co-workers are always understanding and encouraging. Some people have part-time jobs, helping others is mine. When I found out that my co-worker nominated me for a Hero of Everyday Life Award, I was so honored, I couldn’t believe it. It made me feel incredibly special. I never asked to be recognized for helping others, it’s just what I do.
Since Sodexo Foundation recognized me for my work at St. Mary’s Food Pantry, the organization continues to grow, and more of my fellow colleagues and friends have become involved in the fight against hunger. So many people have approached me to ask if they can volunteer with me. My daughter told her co-workers, and even they are getting involved. It is inspiring that being recognized has increased awareness about hunger across the country and mobilized others to take action against it. It has made me realize how important it is to nominate yourself or others for this award. It encourages people to give back—to show that one person can make a difference and that they can too.
The $5000 grant I received from Sodexo Foundation helped St. Mary’s Food Pantry restock their shelves to help those struggling to put food on their tables. If you know a Sodexo employee who is deserving of a hero award, submit a nomination online at SodexoFoundation.org by March 6, 2015. Their work may inspire others to help fuel the movement!
Maude Meade is a 2014 Hero of Everyday Life and Food Service Manager at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. If you know a Sodexo employee who is actively involved in ongoing community service to address hunger, fill out an online nomination. Winners receive a $5,000 grant for the hunger-related charity of their choice.