by Michael Bianca
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Michael Bianca is the #GivingTuesday Chairperson and serves as a Board Director for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
When this organization was in the planning stages, I started to realize the importance of an effective team to go from vision to reality. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have met an amazing group of people who are part of our Board of Directors and Advisory Council. On this Volunteer Appreciation Week, I would like to introduce you to our volunteer team.
The first person outside of my family who believed in the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry was Maureen from One Dish Cuisine. Her enthusiasm for the mission propelled me into starting the organization. Although she is incredibly busy with the café and unable to serve on the Board of Directors, she is a valuable member of our Advisory Council guiding us as we work toward opening our first physical location.
Maureen introduced to me to June, who serves as our Board Secretary. June is dedicated to our mission and worked with me to build our Board of Directors. She is my rock, and I greatly appreciate her sage advice.
Then, June introduced me to Melissa, who serves as our Board Treasurer. Melissa is not afraid of a challenge as she has tackled our nonprofit accounting and bookkeeping. She is currently on leave from the organization due to the birth of her first child.
Soon after Melissa, Margo joined the Board of Directors. Margo has contagious enthusiasm and passion for our mission. She is the chairperson for our first Food Drive, which will occur in early May.
Libby was the next to join the team as a Director. Libby is super creative and has a lot of great ideas. She was chairperson for our first #GivingTuesday campaign in December and is serving as chairperson for our presence at the Community Health Fair in June.
In January we added two additional people, Sandra and Michael, to the Board making us the “Super Seven.” Sandra has an unbelievable number of community connections and a strong passion for serving the community. She is chairperson for our Client Support committee.
Michael has a personal connection to our mission and again has great enthusiasm for building the organization. He is currently serving as Interim Treasurer while Melissa is on leave.
Another important member of our volunteer team is Emily, who serves on our Advisory Council. Emily has a strong background in project management and helped us complete our first strategic plan. She will be working with us to implement our plan.
The S.A.F.E. Food Pantry would not be where it is today within the dedication and countless hours of these volunteers. A simple thank you does not fully express the deep gratitude I have for this team. We look forward to adding new volunteers to our organization soon and hope you will consider joining us as we provide gluten free and allergy friendly food to those in need.
P.S. I must also mention my husband, Allan, who puts up with my long hours and is willing to help behind the scenes. His love and support are endless, and I would be unable to do this without him by my side.
Thank you to all of our donors, ambassadors and supporters for an awesome #GIvingTuesday. We were able to raise $935 in one day on December 1, 2015! Money raised will go to opening our first food pantry in Howard County and helping those in need obtain gluten free and allergy friendly food.
A huge thank you to the following individuals and groups for joining #TeamSAFE, in no particular order:
I do consider myself blessed with the ability to afford the safe food that I need; however, there are so many people out there who cannot afford it. Gluten free and allergy friendly foods can cost at least 2-4 times of the amount of the usual items you find in a food pantry, if you can find them at all. It basically comes down to a financial choice between eating and actually consuming unsafe food.
Together, we can make a difference to provide gluten free and allergy friendly food to those in need. Please join #TeamSAFE for our #GivingTuesday and #MDGivesMore campaign on Tuesday, December 1 as we push toward a goal of $10,000 in order to help those in our community obtain safe food. Although this amount sounds like a lot of money, it will serve as a stepping-stone to be able to eventually open our own gluten free and allergy friendly food pantry. In the meantime, we will continue to seek families in need and work with existing organizations to provide the services they are unable to provide.
The S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization based in Howard County, Maryland.