When I first learned that I was selected as one of Sodexo’s Heroes of Everyday Life® — a distinction for Sodexo employees who voluntarily work to end hunger in their community – I was expecting a one-day event in Washington, D.C. I thought I would drive to D.C. the day of the event, attend the 12th Annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner that evening and return home the next morning. The Sodexo team exceeded all expectations!
The Heroes of Everyday Life Award entailed a four-day event and allowed for an invited guest to accompany each Hero.
Day 1- was a meet-n-greet with the other Sodexo Heroes and an orientation to events about to unfold over the next three days. It was a great ice breaker and we met several of the key staff coordinating this experience.
Day 2 – was a top notch – “2nd: to none day!” It started with meeting several key members of the Sodexo’s PR, Community Relations and Government Affairs teams. They were our escorts for the day.
We then went to the U.S. Capitol Building for an all day tour, to include the House and Senate sides of the Capitol Building. Typically when touring the whole Capitol Building complex you exit the building to get to the other office buildings – House or Senate side. Our escorts, however, scored us access to the transportation train that runs in the basement of the Capitol. This train is off limits to the general public and is mostly used for congressional staff only. It was rather cool walking the tunnels and riding the train with our country’s leaders. I walked right by one from my home state – Senator Toomey, from Pennsylvania!
We also ate in one of the congressional staff only cafeterias. Once again, this area is not for the general public so I felt rather privileged to be dining among our legislators!
But, the best part of the day was meeting with our home state senators (Senator Casey on my visit) or their staff person and telling them our stories and about all of the positive things that Sodexo does in local communities.
That evening we had dinner with Board members of the Sodexo Foundation and met the Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship recipients. These students were just awesome. The things that they are doing for the cause at such a young age are truly remarkable.
Day 3 –was the day of the Foundation Dinner. It was attended by more than 930 people and raised $1 million for the Sodexo Foundation. The evening was filled with powerful stories about fighting hunger.
Day 4 – allowed time for reflection before heading home. Taking it all in, I had a renewed appreciation for each honoree and the work that the Sodexo Foundation does on a daily basis. I was inspired to do more!
In addition to being publically recognized at the dinner, Heroes were awarded a $5,000 check for the hunger relief charity of their choice. I will present mine to North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) at its August 2011 Board Meeting. NHCO will use the grant to cover operating costs for their two food pantries. Its pantries serve about 1,200 low-income families every year.
Ryan Wilson is a Sodexo General Manager for the Beaver Area School District in Pennsylvania. His food drives and donations have provided more than 54,000 meals to families and children in his community.
Tags: Beaver Area School District, child hunger, childhood hunger, corporate social responsibility, fighting hunger, heroes of everyday life, hunger, North Hills Community Outreach, sodexo, sodexo foundation, STOP Hunger