Community Action Partnership of Orange County SOV 22

Published: April 2, 2021

Community Action Partnership of Orange County

Honoree’s Name: Rick Fisher

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Rick Fisher

Rick Fisher and his team at Vesta through the Farmers to Families Program provided truckloads of nutritious produce/protein/dairy boxes to the community. Those boxes helped vulnerable families throughout Orange County who were struggling during the pandemic.

Honoree’s Name: Cait Albrecht

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Cait Albrecht

Cait Albrecht with her work at Abound Food Care, has proven to be one of the experts on Food Waste Diversion and Recovery in Orange County. Cait has worked with OC Food Bank to ensure we are compliant with new Food Waste Diversion laws. She has helped us strengthen our systems so we can provide more nutritious food to the community.

Honoree’s Name: Irene Basdakis

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Irene Basdakis

FOCUS – Irene Basdakis and her team have demonstrated loyalty and dedication in recruiting large groups of volunteers to help assemble senior food boxes and meet our goal of 23,500 boxes monthly. At the height of the COVID-19 response in 2020, the OC Food Bank distributed 63 million pounds of food, totaling three times the quantity of food during a NON-COVID year with the same amount of staff. FOCUS were among those who contributed to our ability to elevate our service during this crisis by distributing 944,533 pounds of food to the community.

Honoree’s Name: Joe Smisko

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Joe has been an incredible asset to our mission and work at CAP OC, specifically with the OC Food Bank. Without volunteers like Joe, we would not be able to do what we do! He has been volunteering throughout the pandemic and beyond, packing food boxes for Seniors in need and assisting at the Giving Farm frequently. Joe’s volunteerism and dedication have, and continue to have, a positive impact on the OC community. In 2020-2021 alone, he has volunteered 700+ hours!

Honoree’s Name: Maria Vojtech

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

When we think about volunteers that have been integral to our operations, Marcia definitely comes to mind. She has volunteered consistently with the OC Food Bank and the Giving Farm, where harvested produce is donated to the OC Food Bank. When there was additional need at the Giving Farm, Marcia stepped up and took on the role of Interim Volunteer Coordinator, which was crucial to the operations of the Giving Farm. She has been amazing and our staff is lucky to have her join us in combating food insecurity throughout our Orange County communities.

Honoree’s Name: Antonio Gomez

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Antonio has volunteered across multiple of our sites and volunteer opportunities dedicated to addressing hunger and homelessness. At each location, staff speak of his great, can-do attitude and how he is always there to help! Our Southwest Community Center can count on Antonio to help with food box distributions to families in need. CAP OC is lucky to have a skilled, multifaceted supporter such as Antonio!

Honoree’s Name: John Cunningham

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

The CAP OC/OC Food Bank relies heavily on volunteers from volunteer groups (e.g. churches, companies, schools, service clubs) to provide the labor needed to process millions of pounds of food each month. In the early months of the COVID crisis, the need for emergency food assistance skyrocketed, yet the availability of volunteers plummeted. The Food Bank reached out to Team Rubicon for help. Team Rubicon is an international non-government organization that responds to disaster and humanitarian crises globally. Team Rubicon is comprised primarily of military veterans and retired police and fire fighting professionals. Upon their arrival at the OC Food Bank, Team Rubicon redesigned the food box assembly process to address social distancing and enhance accuracy. For several months, Team Rubicon team members assembled an average of 1,400 food boxes each day and supported the Food Bank’s COVID crisis in other vital ways. Upon their arrival, John was the Team Rubicon lead and directed all of the work of this vital crisis response organization.

Honoree’s Name: Seema Ramchandani

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Seema represents Amazon and during the early months of the COVID crisis, Seema and Amazon came to the rescue by addressing a significant challenge confronting the CAP OC/OC Food Bank and some of our customers.

Among the largest services provided by the OC Food Bank is a senior nutrition program wherein vulnerable seniors receive a nutritionally tailored “”prescription”” food box each month.

Early in the COVID crisis, seniors represented those most at risk of contracting COVID and dying of COVID. This risk existed before a vaccine was available and before surgical masks and gloves were readily available.

There were significant operational and logistical challenges associated with doing so, but in the end, Seema arranged for Amazon to deliver needed food boxes to the homes of 35,000 vulnerable seniors each month during the height of the COVID crisis. This great service was provided at no-cost to the Food Bank nor the receiving seniors. It may not be an exaggeration to say that lives may have been saved by providing food to seniors without them needing to leave the safety and protection of their homes.

Stay-at-home orders were in place, yet the model that existed for seniors to receive their food boxes was that they needed to visit one of 70 distribution sites. Seniors were faced with the impossible choice of leaving the protection of their homes in order to obtain needed food or go without.

In the midst of the COVID crisis, Seema contacted the OC Food Bank to learn whether Amazon could play a role in helping respond to the heightened needs that people were experiencing during COVID. Once Seema learned about the challenge confronting the senior food box program, Seema adopted that as a problem to fix.

Honoree’s Name: Kevin Kothlow

Award Category: Hunger & Homelessness

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Kevin Kothlow represents Team Rubicon.

The CAP OC/OC Food Bank relies heavily on volunteers from volunteer groups (e.g. churches, companies, schools, service clubs) to provide the labor needed to process millions of pounds of food each month. In the early months of the COVID crisis, the need for emergency food assistance skyrocketed, yet the availability of volunteers plummeted. The Food Bank reached out to Team Rubicon for help. Team Rubicon is an international non-government organization that responds to disasters and humanitarian crisis globally. Team Rubicon is comprised of military veterans, retired police and fire fighting professionals upon their arrival at the OC Food Bank, Team Rubicon redesigned the food box assembly process to address social distancing and enhance accuracy.

For several months, Team Rubicon team members assembled an average of 1,400 food boxes each day and supported the Food Bank’s COVID crisis response in other vital ways.

Kevin was the person who authorized dispatching Team Rubicon to provide necessary relief during the COVID crisis when the demand for emergency food was greater than it had been seen, since The Great Depression, nearly 90 years ago.