11 April 2009

M&N Augustine Foundation Easter Feed

Today, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fayetteville was busy with the 16th Annual M&N Augustine Foundation Easter Feed, which is always held on the Saturday before Easter. The M&N Augustine Foundation is a local nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Merlin Augustine in honor of his parents and the way they lived their lives – respecting diversity and helping others. The Foundation is a 100% volunteer organization that has literally hundreds of local volunteers. During this Easter Feed, Augustine Foundation volunteers served 4,300 meals. An amazing feat!! The meal was a traditional Easter meal – ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and tons of desserts. Volunteers prepared food donated by very generous sponsors of the Foundation. Easter baskets were also made for local children. This year, close to 2,000 meals were delivered to people such as Meals on Wheels recipients, shelter residents, the homebound, and people at the Salvation Army and local jails. It required some heavy-duty logistical planning to get all those meals to the right places!

Hundreds and hundreds of people came to the Easter Feed to eat and visit with friends and meet new people. Many local elected officials were on hand to meet and greet people, serve on the food lines, and visit with folks. I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support the Augustine Foundation and the Easter Feed. The Easter Feed is a tremendous example of what we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal!

Pictures below (left to right) - Doc with Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Threet, me with long-time family friend Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, me with U.S. Representative John Boozman, and Doc visiting with Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor, volunteer Charlotte Johnson, and local man.

A quick word about “Doc.” Dr. Augustine and his lovely wife Beverly have been friends of mine since I was 12 years old. I started my community service and volunteer work with the M & N Augustine Foundation, and I still work with them. My parents work with them, and my grandfather worked with them (my grandfather, Kenneth McKee, and Doc became friends when Gengan was a civil rights liaison for Governor Winthrop Rockefeller and Doc was a student involved in the civil rights movement). Doc, I look forward to many more years with you and the Foundation!

I have made dozens of friends through the Foundation and have had many learning experiences about diversity, community service, and the benefits of life-long activism. If you are looking for an organization where you can volunteer or give your time or money, the M & N Augustine Foundation should be at the top of the list!! It is local, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, and the Augustines are fabulous people whose hearts are always in the same place as their actions.

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