Having weathered hurricanes, floods and storms, few Pensacolians are strangers to giving or receiving helping hands.
Still, few can declare they are “champions” of helping. In a ceremony at city hall Wednesday afternoon, DeDe Flounlacker, executive director of Manna Food Bank, and Andrea Krieger, president and CEO of United Way of Escambia County, earned that honor.
Volunteer Florida recognized Flounlacker and Krieger with the Champion of Service Award for their excellence in volunteering and community service.
The United Way raised more than $3 million in donations in 2014. Those funds created more than $10 million in local economic impact through programs for underprivileged and at-risk youth, the elderly, disaster-affected families and innumerable others.
Manna served more than 175,000 meals to needy Panhandle families last year alone. Despite losing its facility and foodstuffs to April flooding, Manna was closed for business just one day.
Both Krieger and Flounlacker credited their staff and the communities they serve for their organization’s successes.
“What really amazing is because of this community’s support, (people) come to us looking for how they can help,” Krieger said. “Often they come to us with something they want to do at the United Way, whether it’s ‘I want to help put Manna back together’ or ‘I want to teach financial education’…Once they come to us, then we help get them to where the need is that matches their desire to serve.”
Flounlacker said it was incredibly rewarding for Manna’s volunteers to be recognized for their efforts.
“It’s been a tough year and it’s nice to have someone say that we’re doing a good job,” she said. “This is an amazing community because it didn’t matter what we asked for, how big or how small, after the flood people answered the call and they gave whatever we needed. They continue to do that today, and we are so grateful.”
Mayor Ashton Hayward recommended Flounlacker and Krieger for the award to Volunteer Florida, a state body dedicated the orchestrating volunteer efforts and resources. The mayor and numerous other local and state officials were on hand for the award ceremony Wednesday.
“After the flood both of these ladies were tremendous, asking Pensacola what they could do, Andrea on the aspect of getting out to people in the community quickly…DeDe making sure people were fed,” Hayward said.
“Twenty four seven, day in and day out, these two women are out there delivering.”