Now Serving ‘Food for the Soul’
For most of us, Saturday mornings are saved for coffee and family time.
To others, Saturday mornings are for giving back.
For more than 20 years, a group of State Farm® employees has used their Saturday mornings to help those less fortunate. Waking up early, shopping for groceries, cooking and serving breakfast has been the norm for this group, and they’re content to continue.
Every Saturday in Bloomington, Ill., the kitchens at Salvation Army’s Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter and Home Sweet Home Ministries are busy with State Farm employees, including Mike Blaize and Tracey Vincent, who call themselves The Breakfast Club.
“It’s not easy to get up that early on a Saturday morning; it’s just very rewarding,” Tracey, a State Farm employee, says. “The residents always appreciate of the meal we provide and it’s a nice way to give back to the community.”
Mike has always enjoyed cooking for others, so when his family moved to the area and he heard about The Breakfast Club, he wanted to get involved.
“Moving here from Chicago and being new to State Farm, it was another way to connect to the community outside of church and recreational events,” says Mike, State Farn employee.
“For me, it’s food for my soul. I have all my physical needs met, this is something deeper,” he adds.
The Breakfast Club breaks up the tasks each Saturday. A crew leader is responsible for buying the ingredients that morning and ensuring everyone shows up for duty. The cost of ingredients is split among each volunteer, and usually adds up to about $15 a person. The first crew cooks the food, followed by the second wave who serves the residents.
The club is more than just a few hours volunteering on the weekends, it’s friends getting together to give back.
“I’ve gotten to know people from all different departments of State Farm through this,” Tracey says. “You get to work with the same people over and over again and people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with.
“It’s enriched both my personal and professional life.”
And on occasion, the volunteers have quality interactions with those they serve.
“Residents are often quiet and reserved, but on occasion you’ll get someone who really wants to talk and engage and you learn a little about them,” Mike says.
“A man was trying to express his gratitude and asked us questions about our jobs. He said, ‘If I had a car, I’d get State Farm insurance.’
“Those kinds of conversations keep me coming back.”
September 28 is Good Neighbor Day, a day nationally recognized to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of good neighbors. Good Neighbor Day was proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Not sure how to celebrate? By visiting NeighborhoodofGood.com®, you can find causes you’re passionate about in your neighborhood. Simply visit the website and enter your zip code to find a local volunteer opportunity.