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Hugs, Handshakes, High Fives, And A True Sense Of Purpose!

February 8, 2022

At the heart of what makes Meals From The Heart a truly unique and incredible organization are the hearts that keep the good work flowing. And you’d be hard-pressed to find bigger hearts than the ones beating inside Wayne and Ken. Ken Hanson and Wayne Pepin have been volunteering with Meals From The Heart almost from day one. From coaching meal-packing teams and lugging 50-pound bags of rice to loading trucks and delivering bags of food throughout the community, their busy hands are matched only by their massive hearts and warm smiles.

When you learn more about WHY these guys volunteer, you’ll know a lot more about who these guys are! READ ON!

In Ken’s Words:

As a 60-something year old, I am blessed to have good health and be able to choose what to do with my free time. I work a full-time job that is usually more than a 40 hour a week commitment, but I still choose to spend more than 150 hours a year volunteering with Meals from the Heart. Their slogan, “Hope Starts When Hunger Ends,” says it all to me. If I can play a small part in providing hope to others, that is beyond my personal fulfillment goals.

But there is much more to this experience.

Watching tears run down the face of a 20-plus year incarcerated offender as they say,” Helping to pack meals today has shown me the power of giving. I never had this before – all I had ever been taught was to take”.

Leading a meal-packing station of three generations – grandparents, parents, and elementary-age children – when the child asks, “Is that right, Grandma?” The smile and pride on Grandma’s face and the beaming of the whole family as they walk out after helping to pack 1,000 meals is simply hard to describe unless you experience it.

Hugs, handshakes, and high fives are all benefits of working with Meals From The Heart. Does this sound selfish? If it does, I am probably the most selfish man in the world because I get more than ten times what I put into meal packing coming back to my heart and well-being.  

In Wayne’s Words:

I have been volunteering with Meals From the Heart for over six years. When I started volunteering, I referred to Meals From The Heart as “they or them” when talking to others about the organization. Now I always say “we” because I feel like I am part of a genuine caring family. We have lots of fun doing the work necessary to help lessen the impact of food insecurity in our community. When a corporate sponsor wants us to go for a Meal Pack Throw Down packing event, I make sure to be on the volunteer list whenever possible. While these events are a step removed from the people who ultimately receive the food, I know our hard work (and fun) makes a difference by the feedback shared with us by the local food shelves and families.            

During the pandemic, food insecurity has skyrocketed, and Meals From the Heart came up with a new way to serve. We couldn’t meet in large groups to pack thousands of meals but could meet in small groups to help put together and pack what we call Budget-Stretcher FOOD BOXES. I have been fortunate to help deliver those food boxes and personally hear the gratitude and joy directly from those getting the boxes.

And now that we have partnered with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, I get to hear first-hand even more gratitude stories from military members and veterans.

The bottom line is that when I help with any of the many ways Meals From The Heart provides food to those in need, I get a true sense of PURPOSE – and isn’t that what it is all about?