Stories of Service: Mechele Hairston

Congratulations to Mechele Hairston of Chesapeake – winner of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Adult Volunteer! When two Hampton Roads neighborhoods lost their last remaining grocery store, the largely minority population of nearly 18,000 citizens faced dire food scarcity challenges. Michele Hairston served as a driving force that led to the free food distribution of 25,000+ pounds of food over a two-weekend period. But it was her ongoing efforts on behalf of Impact Southside and the Solid Rock Worldwide Outreach Ministry that she made an even greater impact. In 2020, Mechele and a volunteer army of 400+ distributed more than 766,000 pounds of food which provided enough food for 1.6 million meals!

By building partnerships and alliances for food distribution planning and sustainability and creating a Norfolk Food Ecosystem, she put in place long-term solutions for which the effects will be felt for years to come. In addition to organizing, coordinating, and facilitating community-wide food distributions, she also provided recommendations to include the development of a food policy council (FPC).

Her efforts extend beyond preparation of food and dissemination. The network of volunteers coordinated by her encompasses youth volunteers, seniors, individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and members of the LGBTQ community. She is truly helping to make her community stronger in more ways than one.

Mechele Hairston is a champion fighting for the underserved and intentionally marginalized. She is a uniter, a believer in the power of love and fellowship, who is tireless in effort, far-sighted in vision, and willing to engage and meet community organizers where they are.

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