Mission Driven

By Emily Carpenter

A few days after her birthday, Beverlee Hughes’ office is still full of happy face helium balloons her coworkers left for her. She intends to leave them there until they can’t float anymore. Through the window on her door, you can see the large storage room where boxes of food are kept. Someone is using a lifter to place boxes on high shelves.

Beverlee Hughes is the Executive Director of Food for Lane County. She is responsible for managing employees and creating a comfortable work environment, media, and other leadership tasks. She has been working at nonprofit organizations, including the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, for 20 years. Food for Lane County is her fifth nonprofit.

Beverlee Hughes, Food for Lane County
Beverlee Hughes, Food for Lane County – photo copyright Emily Carpenter

While working in Newport for the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, Hughes met “the man” from Eugene. After the whale was moved back to his home in Iceland, she moved to Eugene to be with the man she loved. The college environment was compatible with Hughes’ energetic nature. “I’ve always enjoyed being around that vitality in a community,” say Hughes, who likes to spend her free time running, walking long distances, and doing yoga.

The move also provided Hughes the opportunity to work at a nonprofit that matched perfectly with her values, a specific goal she believed in.  “It doesn’t pertain to politics, or religion or anything. It’s just mission driven: do you believe that people shouldn’t be hungry,” says Hughes. Luckily she gets to work with people who are just as passionate about the cause.

The Need for Food Has Increased…

Hughes has seen the Eugene community step up during the Great Recession, as the need for food has risen. She knows it is important to realize that many of the people who are hungry are hard workers who are unemployed or underemployed, and it is a temporary condition. A few years ago these were the people reaching out to their community and now it is their turn to benefit from the helping hand.  Nonprofits are generally understaffed and underfunded. Hughes says there is no way they could do the work on their own, which is why volunteer work is essential for success. At Food for Lane County volunteers can make donations of food or money, work a kitchen shift bagging bulk food, or come by in the evenings to help give out warm meals to 300 people.

For Hughes the under-staffing means that she gets to work in multiple capacities, which is more for fun her. Easily bored and perpetually active, Hughes is perfect for nonprofit work, though she never even thought about it until she was in her 20s. A friend who was the executive director of a nonprofit left her job and suggested that Hughes apply. Hughes got the job. She has continued in the field ever since so she could keep doing a little bit of everything. There is always more to do, and there is a mission. People are still hungry, and that is what motivates Beverlee Hughes.

Letter Carriers Food Drive, December 1 and 8, 2012
Letter Carriers Food Drive, December 1 and 8, 2012

How You Can Help

Food for Lane County welcomes volunteers and donations of food and money.
Food donated to the Letter Carriers Food Drive will go to your local area food banks.

Food for Lane County website, foodforlanecounty.org
Food for Lane County on Facebook
Phone: 541-343-2822
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene, Oregon 97402

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