During National Superheroes Month, we celebrate our staff! Meet Erin Molek, Community Engagement Coordinator. Erin first got involved with BEDS about seven years ago when she started volunteering. Throughout the years, Erin has helped grow the Food Rescue program at BEDS and also has worked to engage the community in the work that BEDS does.
Erin said there was a need for the Food Rescue program because clients were getting minimal nutritional value from the foods they were able to purchase on their own. What started out as a harvest program has since evolved into a program that provides BEDS clients with substantial meals. Initially, just a few local restaurants were partnering with BEDS but as the program grew, more and more local businesses wanted to help.
"It really just kind of took off," Erin said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Food Rescue program became a way for the community to support BEDS while also helping their local businesses at the same time. Erin worked with local restaurants and businesses to launch the Match a Meal program, under which donors purchase meals for BEDS clients that are matched with donations from local businesses. The program initially began with restaurant donations and has since expanded to include the participation of Brookfield grocer Tischler Finer Foods and the Brookfield Elks Club.
"It just snowballed into this great community effort," Erin said. "We are receiving just substantial amounts of fresh produce that we now deliver weekly to families and individuals that are food insecure."
Erin also works to engage volunteers, donors and businesses in meaningful experiences that in turn help BEDS clients. She starts by finding out what volunteers are interested in doing and how they can engage with BEDS. She also lets potential volunteers and partners know about the work that BEDS does and how we can help those who are struggling.
While the COVID pandemic has limited volunteer opportunities, Erin said there are still plenty of ways the community can get involved and help. Witnessing the outpouring of support from the communities in which BEDS operates in first hand has been gratifying for Erin. If you would like to become more involved with BEDS, contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I like seeing the end result," she said. "I like stepping back and watching the community become such a vital part of our success."