By Mike Waldmann *
I don’t often write about our staff because we stay focused on those we serve and all the people who make this ministry possible. But I’ll make an exception and tell you about someone who is just pretty special.
Since 2009, Jackie Usey was our Gleaning Program Coordinator in Mississippi. In March of last year, Jackie was diagnosed with a particularly bad form of leukemia. On December 27th, Jackie finished that battle and went on to a far better place.
Mississippi is a wonderful state, but the need there is so great that it usually ranks worst in the percentage of its population living in poverty. Like most people who come to SoSA, Jackie had never done work like this before. But when she interviewed for the position, I knew she was the right person for the job. She was “called” to do it, even if she didn’t fully recognize it as a calling.
Her wonderful, compassionate heart, combined with her energy and joy in life, ensured she would succeed. Those qualities also made her a favorite of everyone she met, and in this ministry, you meet a lot of unique people. Jackie was just plain fun to be around, as anyone who knew her could say. That was certainly the case among the rest of the staff at SoSA – Jackie made every staff gathering fun.
And she was driven to care for the hungry in her state. In her years with SoSA, Jackie saved and distributed more than 16 million pounds of fresh produce to the hungry in Mississippi. She also sent millions of pounds of food to help the hungry in other states. Even during her battle with leukemia, which lasted just 9 months, Jackie was able to save and distribute 2 million pounds of food in her state. Think about that.
Many thousands of people have been fed because of the heart, spirit, hands, and feet of Jackie Usey. And it is important to remember that Jackie, and all the staff of SoSA, are able to accomplish what we do only because of the caring and support of all our partners in this amazing ministry. Your support is a precious resource to some very dedicated people in our common fight against hunger.
* Mike Waldmann is Executive Director of Society of St. AndrewShare