The Milwaukee area employees of Komatsu Mining Corp have been helping an organization called The Gathering for over 25 years. The organization serves meals to the hungry at three locations throughout the city including one located in a neighborhood called Washington Park. This neighborhood is located just minutes from the National Avenue facility and it is one that many employees grew up in.
For Sr. Employee Retirement Benefits Manager and first time Gathering volunteer Matt Stuart, the experience was one he felt connected to from the start.
“I grew up in the Washington Park neighborhood so I have a connection to the area and a continued desire to help as I can” commented Stuart, “I’ve been looking for a volunteer opportunity for kids of all ages and adults, it was an activity for every member of my family. Having the activity organized by Komatsu was an added benefit. It made me proud to tell my family that the company I work for was sponsoring this event.”
Employees served up a hot meal of spaghetti with corn, a fresh salad, pears and dessert to 116 people, including over 30 children and young adults.
Senior Engineer and Team Leader, Andy Wurster, has been volunteering for The Gathering with his family for a few years now.
“We volunteer because there is a large need in our community and that need is very close to home. It’s important to involve my family so they understand there is a need to help others, and to be thankful for having enough” shared Wurster.
A sense of gratitude amongst families, both those serving and receiving the meal, is one that carried throughout the day as Matt Stuart witnessed.
“I was surprised how truly grateful the attendees were. They were polite, courteous and appreciative. I was talking to one gentlemen and I asked if he applied for government food assistance such as SNAP. He said he didn’t because he gets by and doesn’t want to take food away from someone else who might need it more. It was amazing to me that someone in his position was still so unselfish. No matter how hard he had it, he was thinking of others who might have it worse. I talked to another gentleman who was starting a new job. He was there with his family including two kids and asked me if there were any work boots. He was proud of the job opportunity and wanted to work, but was concerned about having the necessarily uniform requirements. I was impressed with the pride the job opportunity provided him but this reminded me that many people don’t have the resources to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them. They are starting in a negative situation, making it hard just to get to ground zero.”
The meal that is served opens the door to a greater sense of understanding. There is an opportunity to share stories, experiences and a sense of community. Joined around the table, sharing a meal, employees and guests come to learn from each other.
The commitment to The Gathering is year-round. In the month of July the leadership of Komatsu Mining Corp, as well as the finance and accounting teams will be serving breakfast at the downtown location and an invitation will go out to employees company-wide to serve the Thanksgiving meal. Focusing on positively impacting the hunger that faces our community allows us to provide a foundation to those in need.