Every once and in a while you meet someone you won’t forget. For me, that person is Linda Dawson, the executive director at the Harker Heights Food Care Center.
During our first meeting at a festival benefiting the center this weekend, I could feel how passionate she is about the volunteer work she does.
She’s been running the center since it opened in 2000 and often dips into her own pocketbook to make sure the 300 families, or 1,000 people, who visit her every month have something to eat.
What resonated with me the most was the look in her eyes when she talked about how 1 in 4 children in Harker Heights confronts the issue of hunger and food insecurity every day. And more often than not, the only meals they can depend on, breakfast and lunch, get served in school cafeterias.
“I worked as a cafeteria manager for the Killeen Independent School District for over 20 years, so I know how to feed people and what a nutritious meal means for a child,” she said. “I don’t want anyone in the community, especially the children, to ever go hungry.”
I had no idea that the “Shining Star of Central Texas” had a hunger problem.
I also had no clue that people are going hungry in my neck of the woods. It’s hard to see past the shiny new stores coming into the area and the large new homes being built, but 1 in 5 members of our community live below the poverty line. That just blew my mind.
If it wasn’t for the work Dawson does, children would go to bed hungry. Our community has many senior citizens living on a fixed income who have to make the choice between filling their prescriptions or buying groceries.
We have single parents trying to raise children, families trying to get by on minimum wage, people on the verge of homelessness and those who are unemployed and down on their luck who desperately need people like Dawson to help them get back on their feet.
Meeting Dawson really opened my eyes and inspired me to give back to the community I now call home.
Her passion is contagious and you can’t help but be moved by the work she does simply out of the kindness of her heart.