2021 HEROES OF EVERYDAY LIFE®

The Heroes of Everyday Life® program was created to honor Sodexo employees who have demonstrated exemplary service to others in the fight against hunger. The Annual Application Period is January 1 - February 28.

We are extremely proud of our Heroes of Everyday Life. View a video about what it takes to be a Hero! 

Warren Bates, General Manager; Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Hospitals; Elkin, NC    

Warren, a Sodexo employee for 19 years, community advocate, and Board President of the Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministry (Tri-C), has substantially impacted the local food bank's ability to ensure food is available to those in need.  As Board President, Warren led the expansion of Tri-C's distribution programs to help with food, medical prescriptions, and client utility bills. The program has grown from giving 128,000 pounds of food to more than 200,000 pounds in the past year. In addition, the program raised $100,000 to help pay utility bills. Warren also led the food bank's efforts to purchase a new building. Within one year, they paid off the mortgage to cut overhead costs and ensure all donations went back into the community. 

Warren also engages Sodexo employees in his efforts. For example, in 2020, he organized Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital's "Souper" Bowl event, where employees donated homemade crock pots of soups, stews, and chilis. Staff members paid to taste the soups, raising $5,600 and donating 3,000 pounds of food to benefit Tri-C. 

The $5,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support the Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministry (Tri-C) in Elkin, NC.

 

Patricia (Patty) Graves, General Manager, Lincoln County School District, Schools; Toledo, OR

Patty, a Sodexo employee of 7 years, utilizes her professional community network to fight hunger in the Lincoln County School District, consisting of approximately 5,500 students, where 1 in 5 children are homeless. All students receive free breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.  In this geographically rural area, Patty volunteers during the summer months to support 13 summer feeding sites, volunteers her time supporting the backpack program, supports the school district's food pantry and helps the school district recover unused food in the cafeterias and prepares it for donation to the local homeless shelter.

In addition to helping mitigate food insecurity for children and their families, Patty volunteers with the Toledo Rotary Club and Lincoln County Foundation Scholarship Board. She also coordinates the Joy Program (Job Opportunities for Youth) workforce development training to help teach young people how to volunteer and expand the food pantry program.   

Patty is also an advocate for veterans and a member of Sodexo's EBRG, HONOR. 

The $5,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support the Lincoln County School District Pantry in Toledo, OR.
 

David Harr, General Manager, University of Findlay, Universities; Findlay, OH

David, a 30-year employee with Sodexo, recognized community leader and long-standing advocate for the food insecure, has organized the University of Findlay's Helping Hands Food Drive for the past 15 years. This impactful event started with collecting 1,000 pounds of food in 2006 and now manages more than 150,000 pounds annually. 

The community depends on the annual food drive, and David makes it his goal to outdo the previous year's collection efforts. In his spare time, he spends an entire year preparing, leading all aspects of the project, including securing vendor and partner support, logistical planning, marketing, and rallying students and faculty to volunteer.   

In 2020, despite concerns about COVID and the possibility of hosting a food drive, David persisted, coordinated online donations, and once again exceeded his goal by collecting an additional 50,000 pounds of food. 

In addition to leading this robust event, David spends time volunteering with a local boy scout troop and City Mission. This program empowers men, women, and children in crisis to overcome their unique, complex paths to homelessness.

The $5,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support CHOPIN Hall feeding program in Findlay, OH.

 

Deborah (Debbie) Harris, First Cook/Catering Assistant, Central Connecticut State University, Universities; New Britain, CT      

For the past seven years, Debbie, a Sodexo employee, has been a shining star in her account and surrounding community.  Debbie understands food insecurity.  In the past, she received food and shelter assistance and witnessed others in dire situations who struggled to meet their basic needs.  After being hired by Sodexo, she was determined to pay forward the help she had received. 

Debbie started her volunteer journey with Helping Our People Excel (H.O.P.E., Inc.) and helps feed people at homeless shelters and her church. Every Thanksgiving, Debbie purchases turkeys from her funds and prepares a holiday meal for 350 people at H.O.P.E. In addition to providing meals, she assists with H.O.P.E.’s job fairs, giving clothing, collecting food bank supplies, and supports any other service that the community needs. Debbie also motivates her Sodexo team by leading them to prepare meals for the Salvation Army clients. 

The $5,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support H.O.P.E. feeding program in Windsor, CT. 

 

Tijuana (Tia) Nichols, Building Operations Manager, SodexoMagic - Chicago Public Schools, Schools; Chicago, IL    

Tia, a Sodexo employee of 11 years, a recognized SodexoMAGIC rising star, a relentless community advocate who has tackled the root causes of hunger, has helped homeless individuals, women, and children in need, and individuals in primarily black and brown communities in Chicago. 

Tia grew up in an underserved Chicago neighborhood, where she saw the effects of food insecurity and lack of educational and career opportunities firsthand. As a result, she has dedicated herself to ensuring that young people have options for a brighter future. 

Tia started her own nonprofit, Work Boots, to harness youth's energy, creativity, and talent in her community and introduce them to skilled trades. Her goal is to ease food insecurities, foster emotional well-being, and expose young people to new opportunities. 

In 2014, Tia started volunteering with "Feed My People," where she used her kitchen to cook and distribute meals throughout the community. Tia currently helps organize food drives in Chicago through her church and supports the school backpack programs. In addition, since the COVID-19 pandemic, Tia has contributed $300 each month to her church community food program.

The $5,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support the Work Boots nonprofit in Chicago, IL.
 

View all Heroes.