Detroit 20/20 Person of the Week: Bill Birndorf provides meals to hungry

Higher Hopes 1000 Turkeys 10,000 Smiles!

DETROIT - As Detroit’s comeback continues more business are gravitating to the city especially in the downtown area. But on the neighborhood level many problems remain. Fortunately, more and more Detroiters are stepping in and rolling up their sleeves like this Detroit 20/20 person of the week who found his inspiration while watching the news after enjoying Thanksgiving dinner.

“There was a story about a woman from Detroit who wanted to celebrate thanksgiving in her own home with her family and her kids and she was trying to get a free turkey.”

It’s service provided by many of Detroit’s community organizations and food banks like Gleaners but in this instance the woman was unable to make it to the food bank in time.

Bill Birndorf says, "It was kind of a sad story but the news came through and surprised her with a full thanksgiving feast for her family and it was such a dynamic story and i looked at my wife and I said, 'you know I think we should buy a thousand turkeys next year and we should pass them out in the city of Detroit."

Believe it or not Bill made good on that promise delivering Thanksgiving dinner and all the fixings to four different head start facilities in Detroit, feeding 1000 families!

“We had over 300 volunteers helping us. We had great corporate donors that donated food like Michigan Potato and Jiffy Mix, Coca Cola company, Cooper Street Cookies and then where we came up short, we came to Gleaners!"

Gleaners not only helped provide the fixings but they also provided semis to deliver the food. That began a partnership that has since taken off in a new directions.

Richelle Bonelli is the Vice President of Programs at Gleaners.  She worked with Bill to create a program helping families with small children in the summer when kids don't have access to the free breakfast and lunch provided by schools when class is session.

With help from Gleaners, Bill's non-profit Higher Hopes created mobile pantries that delivered meal kits to select Detroit Head Start facilities.

“We've expanded this summer with 40 distributions and head starts where 100 families get 30 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein, whole grain foods monthly. And that's through the efforts of Higher Hopes, their donors and their volunteers.

Bill Birndorf started with the lofty goal of providing one thousand families with thanksgiving meals and now some four years later with help from Gleaners, his organization is now responsible for distributing four thousand meals kits during the spring and summer months. Each kit contains enough food to feed a family for about a week. That’s roughly 70 thousand meals! That’s why he's our Detroit 20/20 person of the week!

CLICK HERE to learn more about Higher Hopes!

CLICK HERE to learn more about Gleaners Community Food Bank!

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