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Volunteer of the Year - Sherman Neal
Volunteer of the Year Award: honors an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community or congregation through volunteerism
SHERMAN NEAL noticed a recurring need at Exodus Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. On a consistent basis, low-income families would ask the pastor for money, and when asked what it was for, their answers were almost always the same: food. Sherman saw this as a two-fold opportunity to solve the problem of hunger in his community while simultaneously positioning families for success in the future. In 2000, with no budget, Sherman founded the Exodus Missionary Baptist Church Food Pantry in partnership with Forgotten Harvest. The Exodus Food Pantry provides a safe venue where low-income families in Detroit can obtain free groceries on a weekly basis. The organization is entirely volunteer-coordinated and donation-based. For the past 17 years, Sherman has put in 7,208 hours at the Exodus Food Pantry and helps 100 families per week. “First he realized that with limited resources it is impossible to do something as grand as solving homelessness but with the right game plan he could at least help to significantly curb it in his area,” said fellow volunteer Brandon Perry.