“He’s one of my brothers!”
A young boy shouted these words as he wrapped his arms around Pastor Nathan Cherry of Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill.
He is just one of many children who attended the Victory Dream Center’s food distribution on a recent Saturday evening. To this little guy, Nathan and Victory are a part of his family.
After all, for the little boy’s family – and others like them – Victory is a comforting place where they can get the food they need.
It is clear that Nathan and his agency are succeeding in their mission to leave a positive impression in the community.
Nathan recently talked about his experiences with St. Louis Area Foodbank Agency Relations Coordinator Kate Hartman.
1. Please give me your name and the name of the agency where you volunteer.
Nathan Cherry; Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill.
2. When did you first become involved with this agency?
I started at the Dream Center in 2003 and we began partnering with the St. Louis Area Foodbank in July 2010.
3. What prompted you to begin working or volunteering with this agency?
“My parents started the church. I was immediately involved from the start and I knew I wanted to be in the ministry,” Nathan says. “After I graduated from college I came on full time and started managing most everything here.”
“In 2009, we started talking about expanding our outreach in the community. We really wanted to do something more for the people and thought food was the best option. That was really the bottom line; we wanted to do more.”
4. How many people does your agency serve on an average month?
We serve 1,000 families and 3,500 individuals.
5. How do you feel the St. Louis Area Foodbank affects the services you are able to provide your clients?
“Oh, it’s everything,” Nathan says. “If we didn’t have the St. Louis Area Foodbank we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing. Ninety-nine percent comes from the Foodbank.”
6. Do you feel the work you do is really making a difference in the lives of the people you serve? Can you tell me about an experience that made you feel you were making an impact?
“Definitely. In the last three years we have a lot more people in the community that know about us because of what we do,” Nathan says.
“As for one specific testimony? I can think of a lot. One that comes to mind is a single-parent family – a mother raising six kids. We delivered some food to them, and then they started coming here. Eventually, she started volunteering here, and she’s one of our most faithful volunteers.”
“A lot of people—when they start receiving—want to give. This is a great way for them to give. That’s exciting to see,” Nathan says.
7. In your time as a volunteer/staff member, what are the most significant changes you have seen?
“Clearly, connecting with the St. Louis Area Foodbank has been the biggest change,” Nathan says. “The St. Louis Area Foodbank has put Victory Dream Center on the map. We’re grateful to the staff.”
8. From your vantage point, what one thing would you like to see happen to improve the economic situation in America?
“More of a connection between the upper and lower class — in the essence of charitable contributions,” Nathan says. “What I see, what I teach, and what I live, is whatever you give, you’re going to get.”
Kate Hartman is an agency relations coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank