Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It is with great sadness I that just learned of the passing of long-time Harvest Hope volunteer and supporter Edward Young Roper, Sr. Mr. Roper passed away at the age of 85 peacefully in his home on April 20. He is survived by his wife of 62 years Mary Lee Flowers Roper in addition to two daughters and a son, several grandchildren and step grandchildren.

Ed Roper and Mary Lee were staunch supporters of Harvest Hope for many years. Ed established the Daily Bread Memorial Fund years ago through the Central Carolina Community Foundation as a principal investment to provide continued income for Harvest Hope.

Ed’s dedication to battling hunger stems from his personal experience as a prisoner of war in a concentration camp during WWII. When just twenty years old he was captured on the battlefield shortly after the Battle of the Bulge by the Germans, and held from December of 1944 until April of ’45. Each day Ed and the other American prisoners were given just one loaf of bread to divide among six or eight men. Even though they existed in a continued state of near-starvation, the soldiers were made to perform backbreaking work.

The memory of terrible hunger and nutritional privation instilled in Ed Roper the desire to see that no one in his community suffered the effects of hunger. After receiving reparations from the Germans for his cruel treatment at the concentration camp, he established the Daily Bread Memorial Fund to benefit Harvest Hope. A designated fund such as Ed’s Daily Bread Memorial Fund supports a specified charitable institution named when the donor establishes the fund. Income from the fund is paid to the designated organization to be used to support the operations and programs. To ensure that Ed’s lifetime commitment to feeding the hungry is honored, his family has asked that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to either Harvest Hope or the Daily Bread Memorial Fund.

I will never forget the times I spent with Ed and Mary Lee as he talked about his experience being captured by the Germans, suffering from hunger and watching others around him die from starvation. He was very passionate to make sure that he took every opportunity to help hungry people and to educate others about the serious effects of hunger. He was a volunteer for many years with the Golden K's Kiwanis club helping Harvest Hope Food Bank by picking up bread each morning from area grocery stores, then bringing it back to the food bank to give out to clients and agencies. He, along with his friend Porter Anderson, made sure that his Sunday School Class at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church was involved with helping others and at least annually wanted a speaker from Harvest Hope to come in and help tell the story of hunger and facts of what hungry people experience in South Carolina.

All of us at Harvest Hope Food Bank share in the grief being felt by Mary Lee and her family.  They have shared in a lifetime of joy and giving from Ed Roper who was a very strong supporter that through a personal quest he did not want to see anyone suffer from hunger.  Our hearts reach out to the Roper family with love and peace.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Over the weekend the state of South Carolina lost a great citizen: Michael J. Mungo. He was a quiet, gentle, philanthropic business man who lived Christian values by caring deeply for those experiencing basic needs and real crises. He gave generously to those in need of food, shelter, and medicine.

Michael J. Mungo was co-founder of Harvest Hope Food Bank and supported the needs of hungry people throughout his life. He embodied God's commandment that by helping the least of his children then you also served the Lord.

Like so many others, I share in awe and respect from knowing Mr. Mungo’s spirit of generosity and his keen business sense. He gave wholeheartedly to Harvest Hope as well as several other charities. In his giving he specified his ideals and knew exactly how his gifts were to be used. He made sure that every charity he supported used his gifts wisely and prudently and was diligent in ensuring they were successful and true to their vision.

He provided his vision and leadership skills to projects large and small that would benefit people experiencing the worst of times. He knew that at any moment it could be any and all of us who needed help. He never wanted recognition, only the assurance that the right things would be done for those in need.

Michael Mungo was a great business man with a strong work ethic, sharing and teaching his values first to family then to friends and associates. I had great respect for him because he asked the tough questions while also wanting to know the "real stories" about those who stood to benefit from his generosity and compassion. Before he gave to anyone he wanted to discuss the financials, then hear the vision and then determine the need. I believe the same individual stamina he obviously put forth in his business he also put forth as energetically and passionately to his volunteer and humanitarian work.

So many who never knew who he was or what he was about were helped out of a terrible crisis without realizing who their "angel" was. His yard on St. Andrews Road was a floral showcase year round, but his blooms of human kindness are much more abundant throughout the state. Rest in peace, Mr. Mungo.  You gave so selflessly so others may live.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Blessings

I am happy to write to you on Maundy Thursday, just before Easter weekend. As the CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank, I thank everyone for their generous support already this year helping us feed the hungry in our community. It is a shame that so many people right here in our neighborhood have to suffer the debilitating effects of hunger. On this Night before Good Friday, I’d like you to think about what this day means to you and what this day means for hungry people in South Carolina.

Evangelical minister Tony Campolo is famous for telling the “It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming” speech. This sermon has been retold many times in many different churches by many different pastors. Here is just a taste, for those of you unfamiliar with the service:

“It was Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s comin’. Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out; the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s comin’. Friday, some are looking at the world saying, “As things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change anything in this world!” But they don’t know that it’s only Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday and those forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, those forces that destroy people, the forces in control now, those forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. Friday, people are saying, “Darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere,” They don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Even though this world is rotten, as it is right now, we know it’s only Friday. But Sunday’s comin’”

As Christians we see Good Friday as a time to reflect, a time to think about our own struggles and the insignificance of them compared to our Savior who struggled on the Cross. But with his sacrifice, we know that there is hope ahead, there is light that will overcome the darkness. Our God will be resurrected, we will be cleansed of our sins and lightness and goodness will be let back in the world.

For many in our communities, the darkness is overwhelming. Many of these people have never experienced the darkness and uncertainty before this year. Many are husbands and Wives who had beautiful homes, smiling happy children and plenty of food for their table. Now, through the effects of a horrible recession, they have lost their jobs and they are no longer able to provide food for their families and pay a mortgage. Many of our elderly men and women, our parents and grandparents, who have worked hard to one day, be able to retire, have found themselves alone and with little money to buy the necessary food they need after the outrageous prices of medication and doctor’s visits. As for the Children of South Carolina, our precious, innocence future, who are unable to understand the complexities of the economic woes of our country, 1 in 4 of them do understand what it feels like to go to bed hungry. These families, these fellow neighbors and South Carolinians are lost in the darkness, hungry, scared, hopeless and alone.

But truly they are not alone. They do have a savior and hope is coming. At Harvest Hope we are able to provide for our hungry neighbors through our strong Christian community, nonprofit network and through the efforts of hard working individuals who volunteer their time and money. It is through your efforts in our community of giving that we are able to show hungry people even in the darkest hour, that it’s Friday but Sunday is coming.

As Jesus reminds us, it is our duty as Christians to care for all of mankind; “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We thank you so dearly for helping and supporting us at Harvest Hope Food Bank. Through your many Mobile Food Pantries you have helped so many of our hungry neighbors. You have taken Jesus’ requirements of us as Christians and put them into real action. You are helping a needy community and through doing so are strengthening your church and your individual relationship with Christ.

I hope that all of you take a moment tonight to reflect on your struggles and to know that no matter what crisis you have in your life at this point; no matter how dark it might get—know that you are not alone.

May God Bless you. Remember—that it is only Friday—and Sunday’s coming.

Denise Holland
Harvest Hope Food Bank