Inspiring Volunteers Fuel Midwest Food Bank's Mission
Passing the volunteer torch
Devoted volunteer Maxine Schneider has made an indelible mark on the Midwest Food Bank in Florida, particularly in fundraising. Her commitment has been unwavering, with a spotlight on her invaluable role in our annual Winter Harvest Dinner and Auction.
As life progresses, Maxine has decided to take a step back. The torch she carried for so long is now being passed on to another shining star, Carol Siegel. Carol, much like Maxine, has played an integral role in our Winter Harvest Dinner & Auction team for the past few years. We are confident that the spirit of community and generosity will continue to thrive under Carol.
"It's been an incredible journey, and I'm grateful for every moment," says Karl Steidinger, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank Florida. "Her passion and dedication will undoubtedly carry on the tradition we've built together."
Maxine's involvement with MFB Florida began in 2011. "My husband, Wayne, and I started to winter in the Fort Myers, FL area, and we were looking for something to do with our spare time while in Florida," she says. "We heard that Midwest Food Bank had opened a division in Fort Myers, so we started volunteering there."
Over time, she became involved in organizing the annual Gala Dinner & Auction, a rewarding experience that touched the lives of many.
"In 2018, a group of us started to explore the possibilities of starting a Midwest Food Bank in CT," says Maxine. "After much 'due diligence' and prayer, Midwest Food Bank opened in Manchester, CT, in 2021."
With her husband's support and their full retirement, they dedicated more time to serving those in need. In addition to volunteering, Maxine serves as an Advisory Board member of the New England Division, a role that reflects her commitment to the cause.
We are immensely grateful for Maxine's contributions to MFB Florida and are thankful for her continued dedication to our mission through MFB New England. As this transition takes place, we are reminded that the efforts of individuals like Maxine bring the Midwest Food Bank mission to life.
Bringing a unique background to volunteering
Meet Virgil Metzger, a dedicated volunteer at the Midwest Food Bank Morton. Virgil's journey with volunteering began in July 2022, shortly after he and his wife Mary moved to Central Illinois. With a rich history of 40 years at Kraft Foods in Glenview, Illinois, and ongoing consulting work for Kraft Heinz, Virgil brings a wealth of experience to his volunteer efforts.
"Ever since we moved to Washington, IL, I wanted to volunteer at MFB and Apostolic Christian LifePoints," Virgil shares. "After getting things settled in at the home front, I started."
His volunteering began when MFB Morton employees Brent Reddish and Lisa Martin asked him to operate the Tender Mercies bagging machine. Virgil's professional background played a significant role in his volunteer choice, as he had experience in packaging shredded cheese into sellable package sizes. The pouch machine at the Midwest Food Bank was a perfect fit for him. Virgil trained diligently and asked friends Joe Baker and Art Anliker to join him, creating a dynamic trio of volunteers. "Each time I volunteer, either Art or Joe will join me, making the time spent at MFB more enjoyable while keeping our friendship active," says Virgil.
When asked about his motivation for volunteering, Virgil reflected on his career and desire to provide nutritious food to those in need. He says, "In my work career, I saw the need to provide people with nutritious food. I would often think of people who could not have an opportunity to have a good meal every day." This compassionate perspective led him to be part of the Midwest Food Bank's mission.
"Virgil has been a breath of fresh air," says Brent Reddish, Operations Manager for MFB Morton. "His willingness to run the machine and instruct others on its operation has been invaluable to our mission of providing nutritional food for people in need."
Virgil's commitment to helping others is deeply rooted in his faith. A bible passage that inspires him is I Timothy 6:6-8. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (KJV)" This makes Virgil think about what God's people need to be content. He is also touched by David Kieser's vision to start Midwest Food Bank and its growth over the years.
Virgil's best times are spent with his wife Mary, their three children, and six grandchildren. He also enjoys fishing, yard work, and gardening.
Virgil feels blessed every time he contributes to preparing food at Midwest Food Bank, knowing that his efforts help provide for the hungry and those who have lost their earthly belongings in disasters. His dedication to volunteering is a testament to his compassionate spirit, desire to make a difference, and commitment to serving those in need. We are grateful for volunteers like Virgil, who play a vital role in fulfilling the mission of Midwest Food Bank.
Click here to learn more about how you can volunteer at Midwest Food Bank.
Using Creative Talents to Provide Hope
For a third year, talented local artists organized a card-creating event for Midwest Food Bank's Disaster Relief Boxes. Last week, organizer Angel Ambrose delivered 560 beautiful, handmade cards to Normal's facility.
The creative group understands that disaster victims often feel alone and displaced from normalcy. The group wants people to know someone cares and is thinking of them while facing a crisis. Their goal is to provide hope for better days ahead. All of the cards are small works of art. Each card has dimension, texture, and details that delight the senses.
Executive Director Aimee Beam said. "Midwest Food Bank is so appreciative of the beautiful cards. When people in crisis receive the cards, they feel encouraged, hopeful, and seen. A card may represent the only lovely image they see amid a disaster. God's promise of restoration and hope is being delivered to His people through food, supplies, and these encouraging cards. Thank you!"
A Lifetime of Service
Meet David Billings, a 66-year-old retiree with an extensive background in public service, who has found a fulfilling second act at Midwest Food Bank New England.
David learned the value of work at the farm next to where he grew up. At just 15 years old, he became a volunteer fire cadet. After achieving a Master's Degree in Public Safety Leadership from Capella University, David became an employee of United Technologies, traveling around the world, including Singapore and much of Europe. Successful but unfulfilled, David reentered the fire service at 35 years old. He climbed through the ranks, ultimately serving as the department chief for his last 6 ½ years. His motivation in life is simple: a deep desire to serve the public and make a difference in the lives of others.
"When I was in the fire service, I was saving lives, and it doesn't get any better than that," says David.
David has a concern for food insecurity, a topic close to his heart after witnessing it during his years in the fire service. This and his sense of fulfillment from public service led him to volunteer at Midwest Food Bank New England. David believes that when he sees a need, it's a fundamental part of his character to step up and address it. He is a versatile volunteer who willingly takes on any task in the warehouse. From loading and unloading trucks to inventory management and even driving vehicles, David does it all. He's currently training as a forklift driver, with his eyes set on earning an official name tag.
One of the aspects David loves most about his volunteer work at Midwest Food Bank is the sense of belonging. He feels like an integral part of the team, reminiscent of his days in the fire service, where teamwork was paramount. His camaraderie with fellow volunteers brings him joy and satisfaction.
"Dave is a volunteer who joined us and immediately felt like he's always been part of the team," says Corey Barette, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager at Midwest Food Bank New England. "I'm humbled he has chosen Midwest Food Bank to spend his time, energy, and talents, and I feel blessed to call him a new friend of our organization."
David recalls a touching moment during a recent load-out at Midwest Food Bank. He witnessed Emannuel Church, a new agency, collecting food for their pantry. These newcomers had faced challenges with their previous food source but found hope at MFB. As they opened their truck to reveal the food they received, their faces lit up with smiles and tears. David vividly remembers one of the ladies saying, "God closed one door and opened another, bigger door." At that moment, he felt a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment as part of MFB's mission.
David is married to Maria, a retired nurse, and has a stepson, Alex, and a granddaughter and grandson. In addition to his passion for helping others, David is a fitness enthusiast, an avid reader of murder mysteries and personal development books, and a traveler who has explored places like Italy and Hawaii. Despite facing health challenges, he remains resilient, always seeking personal growth in life's challenges.
David Billings is a testament to the power of lifelong dedication to serving others. His commitment to making a difference shines brightly at Midwest Food Bank, where he embodies the spirit of selflessness and teamwork that defines our mission.
You can experience the kind of fulfillment that David has. Click here to begin your volunteer journey at MFB New England.
Volunteering Since Our Opening
If you've ever visited Midwest Food Bank Pennsylvania, you've probably met Kevin Molloy. We are fortunate to have Kevin Molloy as one of our dedicated volunteers. Since our opening in late 2020, Kevin has been a steadfast presence, and his commitment to our mission is truly remarkable.
What sets Kevin apart is his dedication to our cause and his incredible life experiences. Before joining us at MFB, Kevin served his country in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He has traveled the world, representing and consulting on behalf of FEMA and Centcom, visiting places like Qatar, Kenya, and Trinidad. During the Three Mile Island incident, he served as the Emergency Management Agency Communications Director for Dauphin County. Kevin's background as a news director for a local radio station is evident in his wonderful on-air voice.
When asked why he volunteers at MFB, this man with such an impressive resume simply states, "I appreciate the mission, but I like working with the staff and meeting so many nice agency partners." With over 5,000 hours of service to his name, it's clear that Kevin means every word of it.
"Someone once asked, 'What do you call your volunteer program?' I responded, 'Kevin,'" says Kathy Anderson-Martin, Executive Director of MFB Pennsylvania. While that response was meant to elicit a smile (the person who asked the question knew Kevin), it's also a truism. "Kevin is the heart of MFB, and we love and appreciate him and his heart for others."
Providing Water to the Thirsty
Leo Kihiuhi's Expertise Feeds Kapu Africa's Vision
At Kapu Africa (Midwest Food Bank East Africa), we are honored to have Leo Kihiuhi volunteering as a vital member of our board. As a certified nutritionist, Leo's commitment to improving the nutrition and health of those in need is evident through his hands-on approach to service and education. He actively distributes food directly to individuals with very limited resources, ensuring they receive sustenance and the nutritional support they require.
Leo's expertise extends beyond food distribution; he is deeply involved in educational efforts, providing seminars on nutrition-related topics. His focus on aiding diabetic patients and those receiving hospice services demonstrates a comprehensive approach to nutrition that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations. Leo's background as a nutritionist is complemented by his spiritual journey, having felt called to attend Seminary (training for Catholic Priesthood with the aim of serving the sick, the poor, and the elderly). This aspect of his life enriches his work with us, aligning with our mission to serve God through serving others.
Elizabeth Kamau, a professor at Egerton University and former head of the nutrition department, introduced Leo to Kapu Africa. She recognized Leo's passion, knowledge, and heart for service. Leo's grant writing and help with fundraising have proven invaluable to Kapu Africa. His efforts in these areas are about securing funds and ensuring that the food we provide is nutritious, in line with our focus on Tender Mercies and the importance of good nutrition.
"Leo's dedication and service have been a blessing to us," says Christine Mutsoli, Executive director of Kapu Africa. "We are so thankful that God sent him our way."
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