The Heroes of Everyday Life® program was created to honor Sodexo employees who have demonstrated exemplary service to others in the fight against hunger. We are extremely proud of our Heroes. View all Heroes.
Beverly Romear-Doukwah, Supervisor, Lourdes Noreen McKeen, West Palm Beach, FL
As a food supervisor at a senior living community and as lead volunteer coordinator and chef at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Soup Kitchen, Beverly takes her commitment to community very seriously. Since 2010, she has volunteered over 300 hours a year collecting food and donations, scheduling volunteers, planning menus, as well as prepping, cooking and serving food. She assists with 700 meals each month. In addition to overseeing the kitchen, Beverly trains all volunteers on food preparation and safe food handling procedures.
Beverly also helps 40 children who receive meals from the soup kitchen have a happy holiday season each year by collecting and distributing donated clothes, toys and books from the community.
Deanna Durigon, Catering Director, Chapman University, Orange, CA
Deanna should feel right at home in her day job on a college campus since she is a hands-on educator at heart. As a volunteer, she teaches young people and families how to incorporate fresh ingredients and healthy foods into their diets, especially when money is tight.
Since 2010, she has volunteered weekly at a local farmers market called “Orange Home Grown.” Deanna started the market’s culinary education outreach program and recruited Sodexo Chefs to help with cooking demonstrations. In addition, she coordinates the “pay as you can” program for families experiencing poverty and implemented the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) token system for the market. About 50 families a month use the EBT tokens to stretch their federal nutrition benefits with an extra $10 for produce and other healthy foods.
In her spare time, Deanna harvests and donates produce from a community garden, and she also distributes food weekly to homeless shelters, churches and an afterschool program.
Patrick Gassion, Market Chef, Marine Base Tower 8th & I, Washington, DC
Patrick turned personal tragedy into community commitment. While spending two years in the hospital recovering from an auto accident, he observed other patients with needs greater than his own and vowed to help people like them when he recovered. In 2010, he founded One World Foundation and serves as its volunteer CEO. He and the organization’s 12 board members use their networks to help clients in four homeless shelters in D.C., Maryland and Virginia via a “triage” method – meeting clients’ most pressing needs first and then working with them to develop a plan for their long-term self-sufficiency.
Since 2010, he has helped approximately 270 people become self-sufficient. Many now volunteer at the shelters to pay it forward by helping others get back on their feet.
Patrick teaches shelter clients culinary skills and takes them to interview for jobs in food preparation at supermarkets, restaurants and other locations in the community. He helps them find housing and counsels them on continuing their journey to success. He regularly engages five Sodexo employee volunteers in his efforts, and more for special events and holidays.
Yvonne Hayes, Lead Food Worker, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
Yvonne spends most of her waking hours helping others. Having once been homeless herself – with two children – she knows firsthand the difference a blanket, hot meal or empathetic ear can make in a time of need.
Since 1972, Yvonne has committed her time, energy and money to seek out people that others often avoid. In winter, her sons join her under the city’s bridges to share soup and blankets with the homeless camped out there. She also offers temporary housing, transportation to jobs, interview-appropriate clothing and resume help, especially to women with children.
Yvonne leads a 15-person employee engagement committee at Sodexo. The group helps with food and clothing collections, and soon, she hopes to add a backpack program to provide school children with food to take home to their families.
Jude Jerome, Executive Chef, University at Albany, Albany, NY
Celebrity chef, food sorter, nonprofit founder, culinary skills teacher, foster child transition team leader. All roles that describe Jude Jerome. In his role as celebrity chef for fundraisers in Albany, he has helped raise over $200,000 in the last four years for people struggling to meet their basic needs.
Through his regular volunteerism, he has helped thousands of people who would otherwise experience hunger in his community. He recovers over 6,000 pounds of food annually from Sodexo sites at the University at Albany to benefit those in need, including 7,000 area veterans and their families through Veterans Miracle Network.
In addition to helping his neighbors in Albany, Jude started a nonprofit, The Hope for Hunger, Inc., which regularly feeds 600 children in five orphanages in Haiti. Jude also leads a foster child transition team that works with U.S. foster families of children from Haiti to address cultural and language differences.