Feed the Hungry to Honor Past Presidents

Tony and Shirley Adlerbert

By Janice Zimolzak

Tony Adlerbert and Howard Gleason will be honored at the Food and Wine Fall Festival, co-chaired by Diane Largman and Diana Maycotte, to benefit Feed the Hungry San Miguel’s (FTHSM) school meals program. Adlerbert and Gleason presided over the growth and development of FTHSM for a total of 18 years; 13 and 5 respectively.

When Adlerbert arrived in San Miguel in the early 1990s, the parishioners of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church were running the already 10-year-old organization. What began as a gesture of kindness soon took on a life of its own. So many hungry people showed up every week for the weekly meal being offered after Sunday services, that the program volunteers decided to shift their focus to feeding the children five days a week. They transitioned to delivering food to students in eight urban primary schools.

Shortly after joining the congregation, Adlerbert was asked to consider the presidency of Feed the Hungry. He agreed to take on the task under two conditions: one, was that he be given license to implement a new system that would allow expansion of the program to the outlying villages where the need was greatest. The question of how a small community church could possibly support that great an expansion immediately arose, but he had already thought of that. The second condition was that the organization obtain its own 501(c) 3 and operate independently. “We will need to invite everybody to participate,” he said, “Protestants, Catholics, Jews, atheists, residents, and tourists.” They agreed, and Adlerbert built kitchens attached to schools, funded them through a kitchen adoption program, and developed a volunteer-run food delivery system. These programs continue to be used successfully by Feed the Hungry to this day.

When the gavel was passed to trustee Howard Gleason, FTHSM opened five new school-kitchens in less than a year, bringing the total to 29. Integrating 840 additional children into the program and raising the funds to honor the commitment to continue to support their communities for as long as they needed help was no small task. It was a big leap for Feed the Hungry, and Gleason met the challenge head-on. When semeone accepted Howard’s casual invitation to visit a school-kitchen out in the campo, the visit often ended with a sizable gift to FTHSM. Who among us can resist Southern charm coupled with the stark reality of campo life and hungry children? Apparently, no one with a big heart and the means to help.

Presiding over the board of trustees of a non-profit requires business acumen, long and short-term vision, leadership, tireless dedication, humor, a very supportive spouse, and the ability to keep one’s eye on the ball— in this case, the children. These guys have it all! So please join Feed the Hungry San Miguel in a toast to the efforts and accomplishments of Tony Adlerbert and Howard Gleason in the beautiful setting of the Dos Buhos winery on Sunday afternoon, October 18. More information to follow in future issues of Atención. Tickets are currently available online at www.feedthehungrysma.org and at the Feed the Hungry Center.

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