It’s hard to believe nearly three years have flown by since experiencing one of the more memorable moments in my life. No, certainly not as important as my wedding day or the birth of my first child – but memorable just the same.
Nearly three years ago, I had the opportunity to see the White House for the first time in my life. It was during that same trip to Washington I had a personal meeting with my representative, Congressman Walter Jones at the U.S. Capitol. The reason for the trip? I was being honored by Sodexo Foundation on stage at the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. for the volunteer work that I do in my community to fight hunger.
The memory of those experiences and being called a “Hero of Everyday Life” still move me. The reason it is so memorable is because it was a once in a lifetime chance to see and meet so many important figures and to be honored publicly before a thousand onlookers at a benefit dinner. It was more than I could imagine. It was surreal.
None of it would have been possible without a Sodexo district manager who was aware of my volunteer work and felt it needed to be recognized. Getting to know those who you work with and supervise beyond the scope of their 9-5 responsibilities can mean everything for both morale and productivity.
In addition to all of the larger-than-life experiences I had as a result of being named a Hero of Everyday Life, I came away with a couple of small but important lessons that I’ve been able to apply in my life. The first is that sometimes we need to talk about the good work we are doing, because you never know where it may lead or what additional support you might come by. Another is simply that anyone, young or old, can make a huge difference – specifically in fighting hunger. I saw that first hand through the stories of young people honored just before me, on the same stage that night.
I’ve since started taking my sixteen year old daughter along with me to raise donations, and to volunteer at our local soup kitchen. She’s a hard worker and has been helpful in doing more charity work to improve our community.
There is no doubt in my mind about the power of public recognition. I was so inspired after my trip to Washington that I volunteered the very next weekend and raised additional funds and collected more than 1200 pounds of food. If you are an eyewitness to random acts of kindness, acknowledge them. Recognize your fellow employees, praise youth efforts and nominate individuals doing exceptional things to fight hunger. Better yet, join in.
The $5000 grant I received from Sodexo Foundation helped the Jacksonville Soup Kitchen, which was for their Meals on Wheels program to take food to the elderly. If you know a Sodexo employee who is working to end hunger, recognize their efforts by submitting a Hero nomination on www.SodexoFoundation.org.
I’m sure I’d still be doing the volunteer work that I do even without the recognition, but it does have value. Think of the fond memories it will create for someone for years and years to come.
The 2013 Heroes of Everyday Life® nomination period is open now through March 8.