With the Panhandle still hurting from Hurricane Michael, one organization has been here to help the community heal by serving hot meals to anybody who needs it.
“This is our third trip since Michael. We’re here for the entire month feeding the Spring break teams that are down doing rebuilding work. We’re also feeding in the community, we’re finding the need here is still just incredibly great and has been unadressed,” stated Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs founder and president.
Mercy Chefs, a non-profit organization ran by volunteers focused on disaster recovery, have been feeding the storm victims who might have been forgotten.
“This is so impressive for it to be happening so much later. People aren’t thinking about Panama City anymore. I thought about it in October and then not again until I decided to come down here. To know that people still care, that matters even if you don’t have the time volunteering, that matters in a day-to-day,” said Josh James, a contractor receiving his first Mercy Chefs meal.
During this trip to the area however, the group of volunteers hit a memorable milestone.
“While we were here it just so happened that Mercy Chefs had a great milestone. Our two millionth meal. Nine and a half years to do our first million, only 3 years to do our second million. This was an appropriate place for us to be to have that milestone. We’re proud to be back in Panama City, serving the people here that have lost so much,” explained Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs founder and president.
One volunteer who began working with the organization 6 years ago explained what drives her to help others.
“It’s so rewarding and just such a fulfilling thing to be a part of something so extraordinary, that’s so much bigger than me. When we roll on to a site, we meet a bunch of strangers and they all come together and link with us from all over the world. We begin to create something that’s so beautiful, and we’re able to give that to the people who are victims of something so devastating,” said Lisa Saylor, Mercy Chefs managing chef.