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MFB Bloomington-Normal's 2021 Volunteers of the Year

Box builder, natural leader, road warrior. That is a quick way to describe three people, volunteers of the year 2021, at Midwest Food Bank Bloomington-Normal. Let us introduce John Lindahl, Greg DeBo, and Steve Whaley and tell you how they impact MFB day-in and day-out.

John Lindahl - John has become an expert at assembling boxes for disaster relief. If you have ever visited the warehouse during Disaster Relief projects, you may have seen some of John's creative handiwork. He creates "box people" sculptures with empty family food boxes. John's sense of humor and dedication through the chaos of disaster put smiles on many faces. He is also considered the "right-hand-man" to Jeni Hanson, Operations Manager, when it is time to set up lines to assemble and fill disaster boxes.

"He is a puzzler-solver, seeing the big picture and ways of doing things while not forgetting the details," says Jeni.

John joined the MFB volunteer team a few years ago and started on a scheduled day. However, he comes in whenever needed, often after hours, to get behind-the-scenes jobs completed.

Greg DeBo - When Greg started volunteering at MFB a few years ago, he jumped right in. This natural leader had volunteered a few times in 2020 and then reserved a table for eight at MFB's spring fundraiser.

"Greg had volunteered a couple of times and was invested in the mission immediately and wanted to bring others to the event so they could learn about MFB, too," says Tara Ingham, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank Bloomington-Normal.

Of course, that event was canceled due to Covid, but that didn't stop Greg's willingness to be a part of MFB. When he retired from State Farm, he started volunteering regularly and has become an "MFB volunteer recruiter."

"We frequently partner new volunteers with Greg because they have such a positive experience with him," says Tara.

He has become an integral part of distribution days, too.

"Greg is a natural leader during distributions, and we quickly found he had a passion for loading vehicles and leading others to do the same," says Tara.

His positive outlook and friendly demeanor are contagious.

Steve Whaley - Steve and his wife, Sally, take two days off work every month to drive to Kentucky for MFB's satellite food distribution. Two days, every month! That puts him in the road warrior category to us.

This dedication means people who live in one of the poorest areas in the United States receive food regularly.

Steve not only drives the box truck to Stanton, Kentucky, but he also leads people in unloading the truck, another semi-truck, and then organizing and arranging the food so it can be given to 34 food pantries and agencies.

"All of this is done in a small building that does not have air conditioning or running water. The service they provide to this area is invaluable, and the partnering agencies receiving food are so thankful for Steve's dedication," says Debi Petrillo, Agency Coordinator of MFB Bloomington-Normal.

Volunteers are critical to the mission of Midwest Food Bank. Click here to see volunteer opportunities at MFB Bloomington-Normal.

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