Organizations: Food Allergy Research & Education
Volunteer Service: Since 2013
How did you get involved with this organization?
My daughter Adel (Delly), who is now 12, was diagnosed with a severe food allergy when she was a baby. At that time, I searched for resources to help manage her anaphylactic conditions and had little to rely on. It wasn’t until a few years passed that I found Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the life and health of people living with food allergies and research new treatments.
In which ways have you volunteered with FARE?
During the first four years of my involvement, I chaired their Milwaukee walk event. I’ve also held many fundraiser events in the Fox Valley that raise awareness and interest in FARE and its resources. Within the last two years, Delly and I have been giving food allergy presentations at local schools where she shares her story and best practices for students to keep their classmates safe and included. Most recently, we went to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the Faster Act, the largest food allergy legislation to date. We even got to meet with Congressman Mike Gallagher prior to this trip, where he agreed to co-sponsor the bill (see photo of Delly and Gallagher below).
What do you feel is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
When someone shares that something I did had a positive impact on their life. Food allergies can make individuals feel isolated because many social events revolve around food. That’s why our efforts to make sure everyone is included safely are a big deal, and life changing for people living with food allergies.
What have you learned about your community through your involvement?
I would say that people are amazingly generous and supportive. Most people really want to learn and help, you just have to give them the opportunity. It can be small because every action has an impact—like sharing a Facebook post, going to a fundraiser or making a donation. I’ve had so many people say, “I can only give $5,” but what they don’t realize is that donation will provide two new patient kits to a hospital for newly diagnosed food allergy individuals.
What advice would you give others looking to start volunteering?
I would tell anyone to look to your passions and interests and find a nonprofit that is personal and impactful to you. You don’t have to volunteer 500 hours a year. Start small with whatever you’re able to give. Every act will make a difference.
What final message would you like to share?
To work at a place like Associated Bank where my efforts are so supported has been truly amazing. My leaders and Regional Volunteer Council member have been very supportive in allowing me to do what I am in the community today.
Also, if you are newly diagnosed or have someone in your life who was recently diagnosed with food allergies, feel free to reach out to me as a resource.