John Carroll University
1 John Carroll Blvd.
University Heights, Ohio 44118
November 1, 2014
Dear Evaluation Committee:
It is with great pleasure to nominate Ms. Mary Nominee for consideration for the 2015 John Carroll University Staff Service Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about issues of hunger in our community.
The numbers are staggering. In 2014, the Cleveland Food Bank provided 32.9 million pounds of food to 618 hunger programs in six Northeast Ohio counties. Nearly 35% of recipients were children under eighteen years of age and 15% were the elderly. For many recipients, 79% of whom live below the poverty line, every month can bring with it challenging decisions about whether to pay the rent or seek needed medical care, to put gas in the car or healthy food on the table, to purchase warm gloves or school supplies for a child.
But what is also staggering is how the efforts of one person, one particular person, can truly make a difference in addressing this problem. Mary Nominee has volunteered at the Cleveland Food Bank since moving to the area in 2005, where she has just completed her 800th hour of volunteer service. At the Food Bank, Mary has provided support in multiple ways, from sorting and repacking donations and preparing hot meals to making deliveries, distributing literature, and even recruiting other volunteers to assist. In the spring of 2013, Mary headed the Volunteer Committee for Feeding America, a comprehensive nationwide study conducted every four years to analyze hunger in our communities. In this capacity, Mary managed the coordination and scheduling of volunteers at food pantries and soup kitchens across the area, who surveyed hundreds of clients and collected valuable information for the study.
In addition to this work, Mary has been deeply committed to and involved in the local foods initiative in the Cleveland area. She sits on the board of Local Food Cleveland and serves as advisor to the Central Community Cooperative Project, an effort to start a food cooperative in Cleveland’s Central community (where there is such a dearth of grocery stores that it is actually easier for residents to buy a Big Mac than an apple). At JCU, Mary has been an annual participant in the Center for Service and Social Action’s Jesuit Day of Service event, as well as being a regular presence in JCU’s own community garden, where she could often be seen spending her lunch hour in weeding, watering, and tending the garden.
Mary strives to utilize every available “pulpit” in her efforts to raise awareness about this issue. She has presented programs about hunger in Cleveland at her church and to various social groups and clubs. She has organized letter-writing campaigns on behalf of funding for food banks targeting state and federal government officials. She has walked in JCU’s Footprints for Fatima 5K and advertised and volunteered with JCU’s summer lunch program partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. In addition, somehow, Mary also finds time to serve as an active member of her church and to tutor children in reading at the Intergenerational School in Cleveland.
Because of these efforts, Mary has earned not only the award for “2013 Volunteer of the Year” at the Cleveland Foodbank, but also the respect and gratitude of those for whom and with whom she serves, her church family, her neighborhood residents, and her peers here at JCU. As one of those peers whom Mary has inspired and motivated to service, I strongly urge you to award her the 2015 John Carroll University Staff Service Award.
Susan B. Recommender