By Joanna Scatasti, Communications Intern
As the cool, morning breeze brushed against my back, I swallowed my nerves and walked up to the door of the Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative. I typically am very uncomfortable introducing myself to people and get a case of the nerves when meeting someone new, but as soon as Chris, one of the volunteers, opened the door with a big smile, I knew I was in for something exceptional.
The Food Bank of Delaware works with other non-profit organizations in order to feed kids in lower-income neighborhoods for the summer. The Edgemoor Revitalization Coorporation is such an awesome organization, but what is even more incredible is the time and dedication each volunteer puts into making sure the kids in the neighborhood are fed and happy—Heather and Chris are no different. They made me feel welcomed in such a short period of time; I can only imagine how good they make the kids feel each day.
Heather Popo, the executive director of the Edgemoor location, greeted me with a big smile and a firm handshake. She seemed genuinely delighted that Caitlin (the Food Bank’s Donor Relations Manager) and I came to visit her location. She took us on a tour of the home, explained the mission of her organization, and even introduced us to some of the regulars (children, of course) who visit the house for free meals and a lesson each day.
The lessons are executed by Kara Muniz, a preschool teacher who once taught Heather’s daughter, which is how she was introduced to the program. Heather was so impressed with the impact that she had on her daughter that she invited her to teach for the summer! For the brief time I spoke with her, I became aware of just how dedicated she is to her students. She knows everyone by name and comes prepared with captivating lesson plans and opportunities for students to grow educationally.
In the neighborhood of 382 homes, over 900 residing children are under the age of 18. All 900+ children are invited to the Edgemoor location, but only a third of those children stop by regularly. Anywhere from 10-20 children show up for meals, but both Heather and Chris hope that number grows exponentially. The program at Edgemoor is truly exceptional for many reasons. Children don’t just receive free meals: they are given the opportunity to be taught by highly-experienced professionals, are properly educated about the importance of fruits and vegetables by the large garden in the backyard, are exposed to the arts and are encouraged to be expressive and creative. Although Heather is only supposed to work 10 hours out of the week, she finds herself at the location for 40+ hours because of how dedicated she is. Although Chris doesn’t get paid at all, he happily shows up to work every day with a smile on his face and a mission to help the people that matter: the kids.
The volunteers at this Edgemoor location are truly incredible people. They show up to work because they love and have a close relationship with each youngster that walks through the door. They love what they do and it shows. I was so incredibly lucky to meet Heather, Chris and Kara. It was truly an incredible opportunity and I left feeling lifted and fulfilled. With a big bear hug, Heather invited me back to see her any time.
I think I will.