Ken and Libby Tracy

Sara Huseman, Audra Haynes & Candy Varner at Volley for a Cause.

Meet our Chief John Cooper, Sr. Award Winner for 2024, Sara Huseman:
We recently had a chance to talk with Sara about her experience with service in our community.

❤️ Can you share with us what initially inspired you to start volunteering in your community?

I have been volunteering in the Milford community since I moved back here in 2000. I was newly married & had moved to a wonderful neighborhood (South Milford shout-out!) and thought getting involved seemed to be the way to meet people & learn about my new community.

Impacting Tomorrow

❤️  Can you tell us a bit about Feed Our Flock – its origins and mission?

Our Misson: Feed our Flock strives to Relieve Poverty, Provide Access to Wellness and Care of the Children of Milford

Feed our Flock came about after years of working with the students at the elementary school level in a volunteer capacity. My oldest daughter had aged into the junior high & had begun to mention kids talking about not having things. One particular conversation never left my mind; a girl in her class mentioned how excited she was to be going to her grandpa’s for dinner, they were going to have beef stroganoff, and she had not had dinner in 3 days. Not had dinner in 3 days…WHAT?!? This was not OK. At the time Missy Borger (longtime Milfordite) was the Principal at Pattison Elementary and she had just brought weekend food bags to the school through a church. She had asked me if I would pass them out on Fridays, I asked Audra to help me and that led to us seeing how great the need really was for children in our District. I saw how Staff members were spending their own $$ on clothing, shoes, presents, food etc. I hated that they had to do that but am & have always been so PROUD of our Milford School District Staff members. I had been serving on the PTO at Pattison Elementary for years at this point & knew that we had the $$ to help out the kids who were younger, but wondered what happens when they leave the safety of the elementary school? I started to do some research on Food Insecurity in teenagers. It was devastatingly harsh & the statistics were grim. When they aren’t cute and cuddly little kids anymore it is much easier to look the other way. 

I took my research to Nancy House and asked her if I could purchase and put some rolling food pantries in our Junior High, High School & Success Academy Buildings. The idea being that kids could access food as needed with an emphasis on the available food being just what any other kid at the lunch table would be eating….so no one stands out. That was the start & it exploded from there. Covid saw us opening the doors at our own building which enabled us to provide resources & food to any family in Milford/Miami Twp area that had kids from birth thru college.

Shopping for blankets & socks for Holiday bags.

❤️  Can you tell us about other organizations that you are currently volunteering with or have in the past?

Over the last 20 years I have volunteered with the South Milford Neighborhood Association, Valley View Nature Preserve, and served on numerous committees for various local issues.

I spent years on the Parent Council at St. Thomas Nursery School, served in leadership on the Parent Board at Queen of Angels Montessori & served in many roles over many years on the PTO at Pattison Elementary. I then volunteered my time with the PTA at the Junior High while my kids went through the school. 

While I now spend the majority of my time working on Feed our Flock, I am also a Milford Kiwani, which is a group of amazing locals who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of local children & being positive influences in our community. We would LOVE to see more people become involved: check out!

I am currently the Advisor to the Milford Key Club this year. Key Club is the High School Branch of Kiwanis and is a student-led volunteer group that provides service for the school & community. 

❤️ Could you highlight one particular volunteer experience that has been especially meaningful or memorable for you?

We are lucky enough to partner with a couple fabulous Teachers, Trena Panko & Jacalyn Parsley, and their amazing team members who are all Intervention Specialists that work to bring students with varying Disabilities to the Feed our Flock building weekly. These students & accompanying Staff members are so, so important to us at FOF. One of the guiding principles we wanted to encourage in our organization was the ability for us to be able to give to the community BUT also as equally important for the community to give back as well. There is no better demonstration of this partnership than with these classrooms. They come & make bags for us & help unload, stock, sort & straighten our building. Trena promises me that we are so good for them because some of these students use this as a job type training, our building also offers a safe place for them to be who they need to be in a nonjudgemental environment. We cannot express in enough ways how very important they are to us! We love getting to know the students each year and feel very blessed that they come and work so hard and enable us to be able to give to our community. Making 11,000 plus bags a year would NEVER be possible without them.

❤️ How do you motivate others to join you in volunteering and contributing to the community?

One of the most important things for us at FOF is to ensure that people feel a sense of belonging. That can range from kids getting to wear the same clothing & shoes as their peers, to eating the same foods at lunch & being able to attend the PROM. We believe that people witness how great it is to actually show up for others in our community & then want to continue do it. Your ability to help out in your community, donating a box of macaroni or putting a few things into the Food Nests is just as important as a team coming & helping us unload a trailer of food & stocking our shelves. It is important that people feel like what they CAN contribute is what really matters. 

It is a wonderful feeling to know you are helping your neighbors & I think people seeing the local impact has been a big driver in participation & involvement.

❤️  What advice would you give to others who are considering getting involved in volunteer work but may be unsure where to start?

Pick something you are passionate about, research how you can help, and what you are comfortable doing. If you love to crochet, making a lap blanket for a senior citizen at a local nursing home is fantastic. Maybe you super power is organizing, Give like a Mother is a fabulous non-profit that can always use help sorting clothing. Want to help but are a homebody, lots of organizations need people willing to make phone calls, send letters or even write Grant proposals.

I have met so many wonderful people in our community who give so much back & I encourage everyone to step a bit out of their comfort zone & find a place to help out. 

❤️  Is there anyone you’d like to thank or acknowledge for their support and encouragement throughout your volunteer journey?

I have done many different things over the years but none of them have been more impactful than Feed our Flock, and there would be no Feed our Flock if it was not for Audra Haynes and Candy Varner. We have known each other since our kids were little. Years ago when I came to them and said “hey what do you think about this…” they didn’t even flinch, they just jumped in and continue to give daily with open hearts to help make the lives of kids & families in our community better. They are the true definition of living life with a Servants Heart and I am so lucky to have their friendship and guidance on this journey.

❤️ Is there anything else you’d like our community to know about you? 

I grew up in Milford and moved when I was in Junior High. Milford was the only place I knew I wanted to raise a family, so my husband Mike & I bought a fixer-upper 24 years ago. We have 5 kids, 2 grandkids, a bunch of pets & live a crazy fun-filled life in this amazing community. 

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