Take a bow! After the Harvest’s 2018 Silver Spade Awards were presented last week to volunteers and supporters who joined us in our efforts to help provide nourishing food for families, children and seniors in our region who are struggling with poverty and food insecurity. Said Executive Director Lisa Ousley, “I know that a lot of us pushed harder and gave more of ourselves, our talent and our treasure, then perhaps we had first intended, but it’s because we want to help make that difference that changes lives.”

Hero of the Year—Randy Burdge  
This is a lifetime achievement award and recognizes those who, over time, have really shown their dedication to our organization.

Through the years we’ve relied on Randy to be a field supervisor when we have extra large groups or several gleanings in one day, he picks up already harvested produce at the last minute and we can count on him to drive long distances without a second thought to make sure fresh produce is donated where it’s needed most or to use his hotel points to attend a farmers’ conference on our behalf.

Randy is one of our best advocates. This year, he approached us when the Lenexa Market first opened to ask if he could start picking up weekly and establish a relationship with the farmers there. Those weekly donations added up to more than 716 lbs. of fresh produce this season. Randy has also supported us with our fundraising efforts, contributing to our fund-a-need at Greens&Jeans, creating a personal fundraiser on Facebook, coming into the office to help us with our largest direct mailing to date and always sharing his advice!

Volunteer of the Year—Mary Dees
Mary Dees is a special volunteer at After the Harvest. She has truly been a gift to us—sharing her compassion for hungry families in our community and her willingness to get dirt under her fingernails to make it happen. She has gleaned a total of 39 times since 2016. She has hosted our “Beet ‘n’ Greet” at her lovely home every year, and she’s been an active VEG Squad member, answering the call when other volunteers are scarce. Not only that, Mary has taken it up yet another level and serves on our board of directors as well as fundraising for the organization. And, VERY IMPORTANTLY, she makes the best cookies on the planet!

Donor of the Year—J.R. Albert Foundation
Grower of the Year—St. Isadore’s Garden (aka St. Gabriel’s Garden)—Norman and  Edith VanBooven                                        

Other “Cream of the Crop” recipients:
Office volunteer Sathyabama Balasubramaniam
Growers Ron and Sue Witt
Overland Park Farmer’s Market
Cider Hill Family Orchard
Westside CAN Center
Soik Sales
Greens&Jeans Co-Chairs Sally Luck and Deanna Diebolt

ATH also showed appreciation for the Greens&Jeans fundraiser subcommittee chairs, who helped raise $48,000 after expenses: 
Jen Horn
Sue Forbes
Megean Weldon
Jessica Rodgers
Ellen Merrill
Chef Michael Moyes

Also awarded were the VEG (Vegetable Emergency Glean) Squad members—volunteers who have gleaned at least five times in 2018 on a weekday, which is often the most challenging time to find volunteers.

Gleaned their first season:
Mark Friend
Clay Jarratt
Katie Savage
Katerina Giannakoulopoulos
Marlene Sedlacek
Joel Waxman
Sherry Girvin
Nancy Nicolay

Gleaned for two seasons:
Steve Mitts
Lori Mitts
Kathy Leuckert
Jane Alley
Bernadette Graves
Loxie Stock
Laura Pogue

Gleaned for three seasons:
Mary Dees
Tom Decker
Barb Decker
Jeff Horn
Randy Burdge

Another group of volunteers recognized were the ATH Produce Rescue Drivers. These folks help pick up produce from places like City Market, the Overland Park Farmers Market and Lenexa Farmers Market as well as picking up already harvested produce from growers and delivering it to agencies feeding hungry people. This year we were able to rescue 54,287 lbs. of fresh produce with their help! The following volunteers picked up at least five times or more this season:
Chris Cook
Katrina Taggart
Caryn Brown
Randy Burdge
Lara Espinoza
Jennifer Love
Barbara Russell
Phil O’Neal
Susan Kreidler
WT Bolen
Barb Decker
Tom Decker
Jeff Horn

Our Faceook Fundraisers for Giving Tuesday were also recognized (raising over $10,000 with a matching grant):
Lori Mitts
Sherry Girvin
Randy Burdge
Mark Friend
Clay Jarrett
Lara Espinoza
Leslie Gast
Ryan Thompson
Jane Alley
Anna Maria O’Brien
Gina Kelling
Jim and Ellen Merrill
Katelin Wolff
Jessica Rodgers
Bernadette Graves
Nancy Nicolay
WT Bolen
Jordan Stevens