Recently, Not-for-Profit Relationship Manager Nikki Whitehead visited Poverello, a not-for-profit in Wilton Manors, FL that “provides nutritious food with understanding, respect, and love for individuals living with critical and chronic illnessess.”

Poverello has hosted many of our Transition2Work participants over the years and Nikki was invited to to join their Thanksgiving Local Flavor Dinner and meet Greg who was being honored for the month as their “Volunteer in Profile.”

Greg is a Transition2Work participant and has truly made an impact at Poverello while healing from his injury.

“I was hurt at work,” Greg explains, “I tore my bicep tendon, that’s how I ended up here, through ReemployAbility’s program. The program finds you a place in a nonprofit to work. I’ve had clients [from the nonprofit] grab me and thank me and give me a hug. People come in wheelchairs and walkers and I can take their bags to the car. They’re genuinely grateful, and if feels great to know that you’re helping them out.”

We sat down with Tom Pietrogallo, CEO of Poverello, to learn about the organization and how ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work participants advance their mission and help the community of Wilton Manors.

Briefly describe your organization’s goals for the community you serve.

We want our community not only have enough to eat, but know how to prepare and select healthy foods that will prevent chronic disease over the course of their lives. We want our community to have opportunities for exercise and accomplish their medical care goals like lower a1c levels for people with diabetes or viral suppression for people with HIV. We think that with proper nutrition and exercise, people with Eat Well, Live Well and Be Well.

How has your experience been with ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work participants?

ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work participants have been some of our best volunteers. They understand the workplace and provide excellent care to our program participants. There is a pride of work that models appropriate behavior to some of our other volunteers who haven’t been as successful in the workplace.

In your opinion, how does the injured worker benefit from participating in T2W or volunteering in their community?

The greatest benefit participants receive is that in spite of their personal situation, they can help with the needy in our community. Sometimes workers have one mindset when they come and a completely different outlook when they leave. Some love the social aspect of what we do, like seeing children’s families who are sick getting needed assistance, brings a sense of meaning and purpose to their work with us.

What is the most important message that you would like to relay to the readers about your organization?

The Poverello Center is a place where people with serious illness can maximize their nutrition to accomplish their individual care goals. It’s a place fueled by volunteers and supported by a broad spectrum of the communities who live in our area. We create a rich and diverse environment in which to work/volunteer with many innovative and participant focused means of delivering services. From our Popup Eat Well Center that goes into South Florida food deserts to distribute healthy groceries to our online ordering and the convenience of grocery delivery we keep looking at new and better ways to accomplish food security and utilize food as medicine in South Florida.

What is the best way readers can sign up to volunteer?

We issue an open invitation to anyone wishing to volunteer come set up an appointment, take a tour and see what we do firsthand. Once they see what we do, most people fall in love with our mission, the care and purpose it offers. Then, readers can fill out a simple application, receive our volunteer handbook and attend an orientation meeting.