Community

Bettering Our Communities Around The World: It’s A Family Affair at Rich’s

It’s all in a day’s work!  In his professional life as District Distribution Supervisor for Rich’s Frozen Ice Cream Cakes in Tampa, Florida, Shawn Wolf exerts his expertise in frozen foods. But beyond the tasty treats in the freezer case, Wolf pursues a wide array of interests and his efforts are headlined by his deep commitment to humanitarian efforts. Wolf’s recent mission trip to Honduras highlights his strong desire to help those in need in his community and around the world.

A dedicated Rich’s associate since 2007, Wolf, like so many other Rich’s team members, exhibits unparalleled devotion to his work and strong values that extend beyond his career and into his community.

“Local mission and outreach work is a passion for me and I began searching for ways to get involved on an international level, possibly with my family,” said Wolf. “While serving as a deacon at my church, I met a pastor who was seeking mission volunteers. Through this mission, I traveled to Honduras in 2011 to get a sense of the work and to ensure that it was a safe experience before involving my whole family.”

And, just like a fish, Wolf was hooked.  With the Honduras trip under his belt, Wolf began planning his next international mission trip. In July 2012, Wolf, his wife and their teenage daughter, who would celebrate her sweet sixteen on the trip, joined a 30-person mission traveling to the rural mountain village of San Francisco in the municipality of Orica Honduras.

Wolf’s daughter was one of many youths, from age 10 and up, participating in the mission. “My wife and daughter were a bit nervous at first and realized early on that the trip was not a vacation,” explained Wolf.  “It’s extremely rewarding to see how the youth responded to the experience, enjoying their work and coming away from the impactful trip with a fresh perspective.  Quite often these kids don’t realize how good they have it at home and just how hard things can be.”

The group, including one doctor and four nurses, embarked on the seven-day trip to set up medical clinics and complete health screening exams. While in Honduras, the group traveled on average 30 miles to a different village each day offering health screenings and dental care to villagers who might not otherwise receive any form of primary care. Patients who were identified with serious medical conditions during the screenings were taken or referred to the clinic or to the government hospital to receive immediate care. 

These vital screening programs run by mission groups, such as Wolf’s, in rural communities have saved countless lives by catching extremely high or low blood pressure or sugar levels, dangerous infections, fevers, and even complications in expectant mothers. Wolf learned that the screenings of 850 villagers by his group helped to detect cancer in two women who will now receive treatment.

During their trip, Wolf’s group also provided painting and repair services, led community cleanup efforts, planted trees, provided health and hygiene supplies and other much-needed items.

In addition to vital medical care and community support, the mission group brought much needed fun and games to the children in the villages.  Wolf, with nearly a decade of experience as a volunteer soccer coach, led a group of mission volunteers who organized soccer camps and delivered sporting equipment and school supplies to local schools. During the course of the week, Wolf and his team gave lessons and shared their passion for the game with more than 1,300 Honduran children, many of whom Wolf had met the year prior.

There is no industry remaining, leaving only agriculture and small businesses. The impoverished state has left these small families struggling to provide for themselves.

The human response to need is universal. “At the end of the week almost everyone wants to leave everything in their suitcase behind,” said Wolf. “Most of us feel there isn’t anything in there that we really need or that we can’t easily replace.”

“I’ve been very blessed in life,” said Wolf. “I’ve never wanted for much and I’ve been able to work to pay for the things we need.”

Just months after his return from Honduras, Wolf is already planning his next visit. He will be leading his own mission to the same area in 2013.

“We’ve got great people on the ground in Honduras that help us get where we need to go and the clinic doctor identifies the areas in need of medical attention,” said Wolf.

In addition to his mission work, Wolf supports a Foundation called Foundation for International Mission (FFIM) that has built a medical clinic and funds a full-time doctor and bunkhouse in San Francisco, Honduras for mission groups and medical interns. The clinic provides some of the only medical care available to approximately 50 villages in the area. The clinic is not-for-profit and care is provided regardless of one’s ability to pay.

The FFIM bunkhouse is available to any groups looking to travel to the area to make a difference. To learn more about Wolf’s mission or to plan one with your own group, visit www.FFIM.org.

Wolf feels strongly about Rich’s ‘Better Our Communities’ value, stating that it aligns with his personal views of giving back where he can. He’s been inspired by other Rich’s associates doing good work and making a difference. He hopes his experience might encourage others as well.

“Get your feet wet locally,” Wolf recommends to anyone looking for ways to give back. “Don’t make your first commitment a trip to Central America.” Wolf suggests reaching out to local food banks, soup kitchen, clinics and shelters, particularly around the holiday season.

“Go with a friend,” he suggests. “Get out there and see if it sparks a desire to do more.”

Maureen Hurley, Rich’s Executive VP and Chief Administrative Officer, recently joined a mission to Nicaragua and applauds the selfless acts of associates like Wolf.

 “Shawn and I, although we have never met, have a unique connection through our shared experiences with mission work,” said Hurley. “My recent mission trip has opened my eyes to the motivation of giving volunteers like Shawn. I am proud to work for a company where so many associates give of their time, energy and skills on service journey to ‘Better Our Communities’ locally and abroad.”