Being a Piece of the Solution

One of the biggest reasons that I really enjoy being a member of the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips is how the group has introduced me to so many wonderful things that are happening in our community and how I can actually participate with organizations that are truly benefitting not just our own neighborhoods but also the world.  Recently the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips partnered with the Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista to work with an organization called Rise Against Hunger to bag 10,000 meals to ship to Haiti which was reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.  

Prior to volunteering to work on this project I had never heard of Rise Against Hunger so I decided to do a little research on the organization.  Rise Against Hunger was formed in 1998 and to date has partnered with local communities and organizations to package and distribute over 3 million meal packages (each one able to feed 6 people) to 74 different countries.  According to their statistics just under 800 million people in the world don’t get the food they need to live a healthy life.  66 million primary school aged children across the developing world go to school hungry every day.  

When I read the statistics I felt a little sick to my stomach.  I write a list of things that I am grateful for every morning and I have to admit that I have never added “food” to the list.  I just never really thought about it in a manner of having or not having food.  Growing up, my German Grandparents were of the mindset that the more you eat the better you are.  This of course had something to do with me weighing 111 pounds in 3rd grade and having to wear husky jeans.  So yes, the question of “what” was for lunch had been a part of my life, but I have thankfully never experienced “is” their lunch. Obviously my experience is not everyone’s experience and for the first time I truly understood the need to help people that don’t have enough food.  But there I was, one person, what could one person do?

This is the beauty of the Rotary Club, you are never alone.  When Rise Against Hunger approached the Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista in regards to the hungry people in Haiti they immediately contacted our club so that we could combine our resources to be able to purchase the food that we would be packaging.  Then we let our combined members do what they do best.  One of them located space in a convention center to process the food.  They asked me to be in charge of collecting volunteers, which wasn’t hard at all.  We needed 50 volunteers and we stopped asking when our list exceeded 65.  We were ready to package some food!

On project day, the Rise Against Hunger team had the entire processing area organized and ready to go.  As each volunteer signed in they were assigned a simple task.  Some people measured beans, some measured rice.  I personally ran a machine that heat sealed the packages of food so that they were ready to ship.  Together our group of family and friends processed 10,216 meal packages in about 90 minutes.  Our efforts fed over 61,000 people.  

Hunger, like so many of the problems that are happening around us, can seem overwhelming until you realize that you only have to be willing to make the choice to be part, just a piece, of the solution.  One person standing next to their friends and family can do amazing things.  

Mark Ramey