BROOKSVILLE, Fla.- (April 17, 2017) Regions Facility Services (RFS) Founder Ron Wilhite was recently awarded the RFMY Go-Getter Award in March at the Restaurant Facility Management Association’s (RMFA) annual awards ceremony at the Orlando Gaylord Convention Center.
Between 2016 and part of 2017, Wilhite was the volunteer project manager in charge of making over The Daily Bread, one of Orlando’s busiest lunchtime soup kitchens. More than 150 RFMA members came together to update the 31-year-old kitchen and dining hall as part of the convention’s traditional RFMA Gives initiative. Since 2011, each year RFMA selects a charitable shelter or kitchen that’s in need of repairs or remodeling. They gather the talents and resources of RFMA members and share them with the chosen non-profit food service organization to make a significant difference in their ability to serve the community.
Wilhite said, “I’m proud of the work we all accomplished for RFMA Gives. It’s an opportunity to enhance the operations at the soup kitchen and make them better at what they do.”
The award may be tangible, but Wilhite’s selfless act goes beyond him. It’s part of a company culture he’s instilled at RFS. Several employees are also involved in volunteering and charitable donations.
Leading by example, President of RFS, Hal Bolter, dedicates most of his time to his church. Over the years, he’s served as a Sunday school teacher, a ministry leader, deacon, committee member, board member and a youth coach for several sports.
“Service to others can come with a huge amount of pride, but I try to avoid that,” said Bolter. “I think true service thrives when it’s done for a higher calling. If I work 50 hours a week, then I should be able to serve five hours. And if I run out on time, I find other ways to support the cause.”
Giving back to the community doesn’t just start with the leaders of RFS; its infectious results continue to trickle down the line. Another employee and his family spend their weekends at a local food bank and build backpacks for an after-school education program.
“Their work at the soup kitchen is what drew me to RFS, and it really painted a picture of this company and why I wanted to be part of the family,” said project coordinator, William LeBlanc.
LeBlanc also contributes to New Hope for Kids, a non-profit focusing on children coping with life-threatening illnesses or grieving the death of a loved one.
Debbie Gardner, project coordinator, walked 60 miles over the course of three days for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help end breast cancer. Each walker must raise a minimum of $2,300 to participate. She also donates regularly to animal rescue groups. Diane DiServio, an accounting team leader, works for a volunteer organization called the 501st Legion, that brings together costume enthusiasts to promote Star Wars through charitable work, including appearances for the Make a Wish Foundation and St. Joseph’s Children Hospital.
Others have served on various organizations, such as The Boys and Girls Club or coached high school students. Project Manager, Joe Bennett, has been a volunteer lacrosse coach for the last eight years at All Saints Academy. He also operates the scoreboard at varsity basketball games and assists in calling play by plays for the football team.
“Volunteering is a big part of my life and who I am, and getting others engaged is the kind of culture I want to encourage at RFS. We’re not just remodeling the renovation experience, we’re making a positive impact in our communities and peoples’ lives,” said Wilhite.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, today’s employees are entering the workforce with an expectation that volunteering will be a part of their professional careers. Their research discovered that 88 percent of Millennials gravitated toward companies with pronounced Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and 86 percent would consider leaving if their employer’s CSR no longer met their expectations.