Ann Arborite Paula Dana
Dana is "a great combination of part drill sergeant, part social worker, and part foodie," says Food Gatherers CEO Eileen Spring, who heads the massive food rescue and food bank operation that, via 150 agencies, feeds Washtenaw County's hungry. Dana plans menus around the donated food (700 pounds of meat arrives weekly), and she's responsible for running a kitchen that meets county health department standards--"wash, rinse, sanitize" is one of her mantras. That's especially critical for this population, Spring notes, because many of the guests have compromised immune systems. Some days Dana works both the lunch and dinner shift, starting at 9:30 a.m. and going until 7 p.m. Careful planning is crucial: she might need, for example, to have 100 pounds of meat thawed at a time.
Spring recruited Dana after hearing about her volunteer work for First Baptist Church's dinner program. But Dana's roots in social justice run much deeper, to the villages of central Africa, where she served with the Peace Corps for several years. That history of "understanding grassroots poverty," Spring says, helped Dana "embrace our mission and culture."
Dana grew up in Adrian and Tecumseh and went to Michigan State for a veterinary tech certificate. She later added an associate's in applied science and a BA from Siena Heights in Adrian.