2 min read / September 28, 2020 / Staff Writer
As a company, we support organizations working to address hunger because we recognize that in satisfying hunger we can impact we can strengthen the community overall. Those who are well-nourished perform better at school and in their work; they also maintain a greater sense of health and well-being.
For nearly 30 years, Milwaukee area employees have volunteered to support an organization called The Gathering which is “a community of guests, volunteers and staff united by a common goal: to feed the hungry in body, mind and spirit.” The organization provides ten to eleven free meals each week, cooked on site at four Milwaukee locations, to those who would otherwise go hungry.
Typically, Komatsu employees, family and friends volunteer at three company-led volunteer experiences throughout the year, once in February, June and again in November when we serve their Thanksgiving meal. Additionally, several departments have held department specific volunteer efforts, usually serving a weekday breakfast.
John Dixon, Senior Manager-Human Resources, has volunteered for The Gathering several times through company-wide efforts. He reflected on the difference he’s noticed with each location.
“The population downtown seems much more tilted toward deeper poverty and homelessness. On 27th Street, the location is smaller, it seemed many people knew each other and sat with their meal and talked. The 27th Street location was attended by more couples, children and families. The pre-meal orientation described the population there as more “working poor”, people who have a roof over their heads but need a bit of assistance to make it through, and that seemed to be spot on.
The Gathering prides itself in treating every individual who comes for a meal as a guest and this carries through in everything you notice while volunteering.
“The primary aspect that I see in common between the locations is the friendly and respectful nature of the guests. The Gathering truly does provide more than just a meal. It is a warm, safe place where people can find a respite from the outside world as well” shared Dixon.
This year Komatsu was able to volunteer in February, but the pandemic soon put a halt to the use of larger volunteer groups. The Gathering has been doing the brunt of the work in maintaining meal service and slowly allowing for smaller groups to help.
Komatsu employees answered the call for help by donating individually packaged items that could be bagged up for guests to take, items like granola bars, individual fruit packages, water and snack crackers. Volunteers, including members of the Komatsu team, have slowly returned to assist in the distribution of food. Not a single meal has been missed and The Gathering continues to feed Milwaukee’s hungry.