Each year Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida honors and celebrates some of its most dedicated volunteers. Please join us in sharing thanks and gratitude with these individuals for their passion and dedication to fighting hunger and feeding hope.
Andre Reyna Youth Against Hunger Award
The Award is in memory of Andre Reyna who was a very special young man. As a student at UCF and frequent volunteer for Second Harvest Food Bank and other local causes, Andre cared very deeply about social justice. He had planned a life of public service and helping others. His life was tragically cut short, however, in an auto accident in 2009. Today, his memory and his spirit continue to motivate his family, friends, and many others throughout the community to get involved and make a difference. Second Harvest gives an award each year to honor Andre’s memory, and to recognize other young people who are playing an active role to help our community.
This year the Award is presented to Quavion Smith. This rising high school senior has been a consistent and reliable volunteer for one of Second Harvest’s feeding partners, Herald of Hope Food Pantry, throughout the pandemic. Twice a month he lends a hand at mobile food distributions loading groceries into the cars of hundreds of people. The only distribution he missed was to take his SATs.
“He is quiet but a diligent worker. He is always willing to fill in wherever needed. He is responsible and follows directions and an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Candice Campbell, Herald of Hope Food Pantry Coordinator.
Going the Extra Mile Award
When nominations came in for this year’s awards, one name came up over and over again. The Going the Extra Mile Award is presented to Viviane Bueno. Since March 2020, Viviane has contributed over 1,000 hours to help Second Harvest Food Bank distribute more food to more people when they needed help the most. Viviane goes the extra mile by helping wherever it is needed the most. She is most often seen helping with donation sorting, but can also be found advocating for hunger relief efforts and even brings friends to volunteer with her.
“It is so important for everyone to volunteer in the food bank, especially during these hard times,” explains Viviane. “For some people the food that we help prepare and get out into the community is the only food available to them and their family.”
Dave Pearlman Spirit of Volunteerism Award
Named after Dave Pearlman, the founder and owner of Kane’s Furniture, who was passionate about reducing food waste and feeding people. He was a man who got up before dawn to drive his trailer around to the back doors of restaurants each day collecting whatever they had available and delivering it to feeding programs. Dave served on the Second Harvest Board of Directors for many years, and the food pantry program at Jewish Family Services in Winter Park bears his name. Though Dave is no longer with us, he left a legacy of involvement, action, and hope. He proved the impact that one individual can have on a serious problem. This recognizes people who continue to work for others in the spirit that Dave demonstrated.
The Dave Pearlman Spirit of Volunteerism Award goes to Ralphee Addington. Over the years, Ralphee has volunteered at many food drives, rescued truck-loads of food at food shows and manned tables at fundraising events. He even offered to help deliver food as part of a Health and Hunger pilot program.
When the pandemic started and phone calls started pouring in for home delivery, Ralphee started making deliveries daily, sometimes even on the weekend. During the mandatory stay-at-home orders, he bravely went out into the community, never turning down a request. It didn’t matter how far the distance or day of the week, if someone needed the food – Ralphee was there.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been told by food box recipients, in tears, that he is an angel,” said Darlene Vega, Health and Hunger programs coordinator. “Delivery volunteers like Ralphee are truly selfless and the spirit of Bring Hope Home.”
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Last year 28,410 volunteers generously donated 88,974 hours of service to share love, kindness and hope with our neighbors facing hunger. From preparing meals for kids at the new Mercy Kitchen to sorting food donations, bottling honey and even helping at food distributions, individuals and corporate group volunteers made a positive impact on the lives of others.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Second Harvest, please visit www.feedhopenow.org/volunteer.