NORTHFIELD, Ill., Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Finding homes for abandoned pets. Working with orphans. Counseling struggling youth. Securing an education for teens. These are just some of the many ways five outstanding Kraft Foods employees are making a difference in their communities.
The Kraft Foods Foundation is honoring Carlos Fonseca from Venezuela, Michelle Voss from the United States, Maria de Jesus Rocha from Mexico, Lizzie Lee from the United Kingdom and Marion Gathoga from Kenya for their extraordinary year-round commitment to volunteerism with the first-ever Delicious Difference Awards. The Kraft Foods Foundation will fund a $10,000 grant to each of the nonprofit partners of the award winners.
"The Delicious Difference Awards are our way of putting the spotlight on these five amazing employees, who are truly our superstars," said Nicole Robinson, Vice President of the Kraft Foods Foundation. "I'm personally inspired by these individuals and so proud of the invaluable impact they each make in their communities year after year."
Yesterday, Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO, and other leaders honored the five Delicious Difference Award winners at Kraft Foods' global headquarters. Here are their stories.
Turns Lives Around While Improving Communities
It all started with a college project. Carlos Fonseca worked to provide people living in a low-income community in Venezuela with the tools and resources they needed to clean up their neighborhood.
Three years later, he has expanded that passion for helping people into the foundation of his own nonprofit organization, Impulso Creativo. The organization works with troubled teens in Caracas to help them turn their lives around, and in turn, improve the neighborhoods in which they live.
"With good values, you can improve your life," said Fonseca, who is a Corporate Affairs Analyst. "We have to focus on human development and give people the knowledge we have been learning throughout our lives. You get to know these kids. And you give them all of the knowledge you have about values and what is really important in life – and that gives them direction."
Finds Happy Homes for Abandoned Pets
Michelle Voss is a matchmaker. Every year, she helps thousands of abandoned animals find good, happy homes. Since 2006, she has spent much of her free time volunteering at Heartland Animal Shelter in Glenview, Ill., where she not only works with the animals, but also puts her expertise in finance to use.
When Voss started volunteering at the shelter in 2006, about 600 animals were being placed in homes every year. That number is now 1,000. In addition, thanks to Voss applying her knack for numbers, the shelter's budget has stabilized and no longer has an annual deficit.
"It goes without saying that volunteering is really important," said Voss, who is National Forecasting Manager, Grocery Manufacturing. "If you have the time and energy, there are a lot of worthy organizations that need help. I would encourage anyone to volunteer."
Gives Love and Laughter to Orphans
Maria de Jesus Rocha walks through the door of Casa Hogar nearly every day and is met by throngs of children running to greet her. The orphanage is where she spends most of her time – and she wouldn't have it any other way.
More than 130 children currently live at Casa Hogar, which provides education, food and a home for children in Mexico who have been orphaned, abandoned or whose families are unable to care for them. Having adopted three children of her own over the years, Rocha is particularly invested in making sure the children of Casa Hogar have the best lives possible.
"Volunteering is something that must be a part of us," said Rocha, who is a Safety & Ecology Coordinator. "To be a person of service, in service to others, is something priceless. We cannot forget the importance of having everybody participate in the community and help others."
Counsels Troubled Teens
Every teenager needs a shoulder to lean on from time to time. For dozens of teens in Reading, U.K., that person is Lizzie Lee.
Lee is a scientist, but once a week she hangs up her lab coat and heads to No. 5 Youth Counseling and Information Service to spend time with young people who are facing some of life's toughest issues, including bullying, abuse, teen pregnancy and depression.
Lee has served as a volunteer for more than eight years, holding counseling sessions, training volunteers and leading fundraising efforts.
"Young people are dealing with a lot of difficult issues," Lee said. "They need someone to talk to. Sometimes just listening makes a big difference."
Secures Education for African Youth
Marion Gathoga is paying it forward. Many years ago when she had two years of schooling left, but had no money to pay for it, an anonymous donor stepped in and paid for the rest of her education. She still does not know who that person was and may never be able to give thanks directly. Instead, she is helping others by giving her time and money.
Gathoga, Country Director for Kenya and East Africa, is one of the founding trustees of the Palmhouse Foundation, which provides funding and mentoring to Kenyan children who want to complete a secondary education. In a country where most people live on less than one dollar a day, it's rare to fulfill dreams of education. But Gathoga is determined to make it happen for as many children as possible.
Currently, the Palmhouse Foundation has 206 students enrolled and more than 100 graduates, most of whom are awaiting admission into a university.
"These graduates are going back to their villages and homes and telling the children there that they can do this too," Gathoga said. "It gives me goose pimples when I think about it. Being able to do this work is very fulfilling for me, and I am honored to have received the Delicious Difference Award."
About Kraft Foods
The company and the Kraft Foods Foundation have donated more than $1 billion in cash and food to hunger-relief organizations over the past 25 years. Through support of partners, including Save the Children, Feeding America, INMED Partnerships for Children, Charities Aid Federation and CARE, the company and Foundation support programs on almost every continent.
Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) is a global snacks powerhouse with an unrivaled portfolio of brands people love. Proudly marketing delicious biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in approximately 170 countries, Kraft Foods had 2010 revenue of $49.2 billion. Twelve of the company's iconic brands – Cadbury, Jacobs, Kraft, LU, Maxwell House, Milka, Nabisco, Oreo, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Tang and Trident – generate revenue of more than $1 billion annually. On Aug. 4, 2011, Kraft Foods announced plans to divide and create two independent public companies: a high-growth global snacks business with estimated revenue of $32 billion and a high-margin North American grocery business with estimated revenue of $16 billion, based on 2010 financial results, adjusted for divestitures. The transaction will take at least 12 months to complete, during which time plans regarding the structure, management, governance and other matters will be announced. A leader in innovation, marketing, health & wellness and sustainability, Kraft Foods is a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor's 500, Dow Jones Sustainability Index and Ethibel Sustainability Index. Visit kraftfoodscompany.com and facebook.com/kraftfoodscorporate.
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SOURCE Kraft Foods