John Walker of El Paso

John Walker - Covid19 Hero Awards

I would like to nominate John Walker of El Paso, Texas as my COVID19 Hero. If you would ever like to meet Mr. Walker, you’d have to get up pretty early in the morning. At 5am, every other Saturday you will find Mr. Walker packing boxes with meat and doing his final count before opening the food pantry doors. Mr. Walker has run the food pantry located at his church for the last 6 years. On average, the pantry distributes over 70,000 pounds of food and feeds 10,991 people annually. The food pantry is run off of donations and the occasional grant, any remaining costs, Mr. Walker pays out of pocket. With a record number of unemployment filings and economic uncertainty due to COVID19, the demand placed on food pantries is at an all time high. Most food pantries purchase food from distributors at a deeply discounted price, this is what makes the work of feeding communities possible. However, with more people tapping into this source it’s left smaller food pantries, like Mr. Walker’s, as the last dog at the bowl. The support received from food distributors is a fraction of what it was pre COVID19. Nevertheless Mr. Walker has committed to keeping the doors of his pantry open even if it meant absorbing the majority of the costs himself. Aside from the financial undertaking, Mr. Walker has also absorbed the physical impact as well. Due to the new regulations of social distancing the food pantry has converted to drive thru only which means Mr. Walker and a faithful few are doing the heavy lifting, literally. John Walker has been given every opportunity to quit: increased demand in the community, dwindling support from food distributors, and the risk of social interaction caused by a global pandemic. Despite it all Mr. Walker’s commitment has been unwavering, through his commitment and dedication to his community, he continues to feed hundreds of low income men women and children even in the midst of economic uncertainty and a national pandemic. This is why I would like to nominate him as my COVID19 hero.

She is making a huge difference in saving the lives of hundreds of workers and their families as the team sews re-useable hospital gowns. These are donated for free to any group that requests these gowns.

What other characteristics has your Hero demonstrated to support this nomination?

When I think about John Walker and the work he does in the community two words come to mind: compassion and commitment. After seeing a need in the community where he resides, it was compassion that prompted Mr. Walker to reopen the doors of his church’s food pantry. That same compassion has allowed him to expand beyond giving just food. Clothes, hygiene items, and furniture are available to those in need. During the holiday season, you’ll find a line around the corner of area children waiting to receive a toy, which is made possible because Mr. Walker has reached out and formed a partnership with Toys for Tots. Mr. Walker’s role in the community goes beyond just handing out stuff, he has become a fixture in the lives of those he serves. He notices when he hasn’t seen a particular face in a while and does his best to reach out and check’s in on them. Once all the food is gone and the doors are closed it is Mr. Walker’s commitment that makes him go the extra mile

Describe the impact of your Hero on a local, regional, national, and/or international level.

Mr. Walker has served the Greater El Paso area by helping to start 5 food pantries which includes 2 that are mobile, providing over 70,000 pounds of food feeding 10,991 residents, securing furniture for those in need, working with the City of El Paso Municipal Courts to provide opportunities to complete community service hours, partnering with Toys for Tots to distribute over 300 toys to area youth during Christmas, providing clothes and personal hygiene items.