April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Throughout the month we will highlight the stories of volunteers who have committed to creating a community free of hunger!
The Food Bank of Delaware is very fortunate to have a friend like Karen Williams.
For at least a decade, she’s been a loyal and dedicated volunteer, the boots-on-ground kind of lady that promotes food drives and recruits family, friends, and her students to pitch in. You know that old saying that many hands lighten the load? Williams has encouraged many, many hands.
This Lake Forest High School teacher is now a very active member of the Food Bank of Delaware’s board of directors. While participating at a leadership level, she continues to help feed the community face-to-face as well.
Williams can’t recall the exact moment that she started to actively address food insecurity in her own backyard, but she says she first got involved through the senior mobile pantry at Felton United Methodist Church. That mobile panty is part of the Lake Forest Ministerium, one of our 575 hunger-relief program partners.
And she continues to help out with that ministry.
As a teacher (five courses in the social studies and psychology fields) and a former long-time Lake Forest High School Student Council adviser, Williams saw the faces of hunger in a different population: high school students and their families. She took a step in alleviating the problem by partnering with the Food Bank to open the first high school-based food pantry in 2012.
That pantry, now a Harry K Foundation sponsored pantry, continues to serve students, and it also provides volunteer opportunities for other students as well.
Karen Williams has earned a reputation as a volunteer who teaches the next generation to give back. For example, during her tenure as student council adviser, the entrance “fee” to all sorts of special days and events was a donation to the Food Bank of Delaware. Want to wear jeans to school on Friday? Bring a jar of peanut butter for the Food Bank.
The largest food drives, perhaps, were associated with the annual Battle of the Bell, a football game that pitted Lake Forest against neighboring Milford High School. In addition, Williams also brought teams of Lake Forest students to volunteer at our Milford site for the Thanksgiving distribution.
Her legacy lives on. A recent food drive associated with a recent Mr. and Miss Irresistible Contest yielded more than 1,700 pounds of food for the Lake Forest Ministerium.
For Williams, volunteering is also a family affair. She’s developed the spirit in her son, Weston, 12, and her parents also pitch in by donating extra produce from their garden.
Serving on our board has broadened her horizons. She says she is particularly impressed by our Culinary School programs. These 14-week workforce development programs provide kitchen and classroom experience to train unemployed and underemployed people for entry level jobs in the culinary field.
“What a great resource for the community,” she said.
She describes the on-going capital campaign for the new Newark facility as “phenomenal.”
“This is one more resource for the community, one people can take advantage of if they need it. It’s an opportunity.”
Thank you, Karen Williams, for your commitment to the Food Bank of Delaware.
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.