Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

As colleagues from different generations (x/millennial), we’ve been leading talks and workshops sharing our insights about working across generations – what we call “cogeneration.” As we plan, we’re usually texting furiously, sharing ideas and reflections. So we...

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

I was thrilled when I heard about the new book, Why Aren’t We Doing This! Collaborating with Minors in Major Ways, written by Denise Webb, age 20, and Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, age 73, (both pictured above) and published by Youth Infusion, a clearinghouse co-founded by...

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Sunday’s show featured three big moments reminding us that music can be a bridge not only across race, culture, and genre, but also age. Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs. Much attention, rightfully, has gone to the duet between Tracy Chapman, who turns 60 next month,...

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Andy Czerkas

The River Food Pantry
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

Czerkas alleviates hunger and social isolation among low-income residents of Madison, Wisc., by providing free food and services in a welcoming atmosphere.

In 2000, Andy Czerkas and his wife, Jenny, began volunteering in low-income and senior housing complexes in Madison, Wisc., neighborhoods marked by poverty. Czerkas was motivated by religious faith and a sense of service that dated back more than 25 years, when – upon breaking free from alcoholism – he made a commitment to help others.

Czerkas and his wife worked with the neighborhoods to provide free monthly dinners, threw back-to-school parties and organized holiday gift programs. But it wasn’t enough. Families routinely had to choose between paying rent or buying food.

That’s why Czerkas opened The River Food Pantry in 2006 in a rented warehouse to provide free food, clothing, household items and hot meals. Clients shop in the pantry weekly as if in a grocery store. Today the pantry feeds about 600 families a week, distributing 1.3 million pounds of food every year, while providing medical screenings, job search training and other services.

The pantry also fosters a sense of community through a friendly, family-like atmosphere. It’s a place where people facing the same struggles can feel connected. Many opt to volunteer at the pantry.