Volunteer Spotlight: Shanika Williams-Nelson

After spending the day sorting through food items at the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley with her colleagues at Macy’s, Shanika Williams-Nelson can’t wait to bring her church’s youth group to participate in a similar project. “I want to expose them to this wonderful opportunity and promote charitable values. Once they have an opportunity such as this they may take on community projects to lead themselves.”
 
As part of National Volunteer Week, Shanika and her colleagues sorted through 4,569 pounds of food that will be distributed to over 400 local food pantries in just four hours! Shanika was “gung-ho” about the project. It opened her eyes to the need in the community and to the impact that a few extra hands can have.
 
While this is her first time leading a volunteer opportunity at Macy’s, Shanika is very involved in her United Way Workplace Campaign and encourages everyone to do their part. The United Way campaign is one of her main priorities! She persistently promotes the work of United Way among her colleagues and does her best to make sure that each donates. “I am aware of all of the great work of United Way, and I know that if we all work together, we can accomplish so much!”
 
Shanika is also an avid volunteer with the Breast Cancer Foundation. Once, she even camped out under the Triborough Bridge to ensure that her and her fellow volunteers were prepared for the walk the next day. She spent the entire night setting up for the event along with her fellow volunteers, preparing tables, rest stations, and other last minute event logistics. Although she was exhausted in the morning “it was worth it for a good cause!”
 
She is also extremely involved in her church’s philanthropic endeavors and helps facilitate a food drive, toy drive, school supply drive and the Holiday Giving Tree. She is also hoping to serve on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic next year. It is very fitting that her congregation will be building a food bank onto an existing church. “Making sure everyone has enough to eat is a cause dear to my heart.”
 
Indeed, her church has had a profound positive influence on her life and she considers her pastor to be her role model. He, like Shanika, has a “heart to serve” and he inspires her congregation on a weekly basis to do more for their community.
 
Shanika, who originally hails from the Bronx, has found a community in the Hudson Valley that is devoted to giving back. Not only does she encourage the youth at her church to make a difference, she also does so with her colleagues. “Macy’s slogan is ‘Volunteering is always in fashion;’ I think we proved that today at the Food Bank!”
 
While Shanika may be tired from lifting thousands of pounds of food, she is highly energetic when it comes to volunteering; she can’t wait to bring back her team for Make a Difference Day!
 
To learn how you can join Shanika for an upcoming Day of Caring visit volunteer.uwdor.org today.
 
Melissa Clark, Manager of Community Mobilization