In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting outstanding community volunteers dedicated to making a difference all year long.
Honey Holzendorf is described as “the embodiment of service and love for your local community.” Nominated by the Kids Hope Alliance, Honey’s day-to-day schedule is built around serving residents in need in the Historic East Jacksonville community. From helping coordinate food giveaways to counseling local women, Honey strives to serve the community in any way she can.
Here’s what Honey had to say about her experience as a Northeast Florida changemaker:
Describe the person or event that inspired you to give back to the community.
My grandma Annie Mae Whaley. She used to have a rooming house and fed people everyday. She had very little, but she shared. She gave male tenants a place to stay and I saw her giving spirit. Giving has always been a part of my life. I watched my parents give. I would have my mom fix two sandwiches for me and a friend at school because I knew she was hungry.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect about volunteering?
Being able to meet families and women; those determined to provide for themselves. I’ve met women who want to make sure their kids aren’t hungry. They will not eat so that their kids will eat.
Describe the moment you realized your volunteer efforts were making a real difference.
When people in the community would flag me down. I’d be riding down the Avenue (A. Philip Randolph Blvd) and people would be waving at me. I began realizing people were being touched through giving, which inspired me to give more than food.
People would call me to give me food to bring back to the community. I would haul it in my Hummer. God opens up the window to make provisions. It’s a heavenly account. God hears us. My desire was to go back and put pieces back together.
If you could inspire people to do one thing to make Northeast Florida a better community, what would that be and why?
To be more compassionate – it goes a long way when dealing with broken people. People don’t know they are broken; being compassionate allows you to feel what they feel. Compassion tells me judge not and to not be critical of others. To be adamant and humble. I’ve been there. Everybody needs somebody to love. That’s what God is — love. Try to do more with no expectations.
What advice would you give someone on the fence about whether or not they should volunteer in their community?
Don’t hesitate. I had to earn the trust of the families and they know I am here for them. If you are undecided, just come out and see what it’s all about – see the difference.
Everybody doesn’t have what it takes to be a part of food distribution. It requires you to sweat. You have to want to be there. It takes a strong spirit to be part of the food distribution. I thank the warehouse workers because it takes a lot work before the food even gets to me.
Because change doesn’t happen alone, people like you are needed now more than ever to uplift the most vulnerable in our community. You can find a variety of community service projects, including opportunities to uplift historic East Jacksonville, at unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer.