Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

Got a Digital Illustration that Shows Generations Working Together?

Got a Digital Illustration that Shows Generations Working Together?

CoGenerate recently teamed up with Fine Acts, a global creative studio for social impact, to launch an open call for illustrations showing generations working together for change.  We’re looking for illustrations that show older and younger people coming together to...

A New Conversation About Service That Crosses Generations

A New Conversation About Service That Crosses Generations

Can a single meal begin to bridge divides? Back in January, two major partners in CoGenerate’s work teamed up to find out. On the MLK Day of Service, Generations Over Dinner and AmeriCorps joined with senior living communities across the country to host more than 100...


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.