Nonprofit Brings Food and Hope to Head Start Families

Five years ago, Bill Birndorf launched Higher Hopes after watching a news story about a family struggling to get a turkey for Thanksgiving. For the past few years the nonprofit has been distributing not only Thanksgiving meal kits, but also food through mobile distributions at Head Start sites in partnership with Gleaners.

On Thanksgiving in 2013, Bill Birndorf and his family enjoyed a wonderful holiday meal with about 30 people. Together they gathered to give thanks over a holiday feast with all the trimmings.

Later that night, he and his wife were preparing to go to bed and were watching the news when they saw a story about a woman who was struggling to find a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Her car had broken down, and she couldn’t make it to the store. By the time she was able to get to the store there were no more turkeys.

Bill says he told his wife that they should pass out 1,000 turkeys the following Thanksgiving. Not just turkey but everything they had that evening: stuffing, yams, green bean casserole.

Higher Hopes was born. Bill started the nonprofit with help from people at his office, Apple Marketing Company in Commerce Township.

With the help of generous donors from individuals to large companies, they were able to deliver the turkeys the following year. Aside from distributing the turkeys they’ve also started doing School Food Mobile distributions in partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank. He was referred to Gleaners when he had trouble sourcing, storing, and delivering food.

“The goal is to offer a bounty of food so families can enjoy a meal independently in their own homes with family and friends. And have peace of mind knowing they have food” on the table, Bill says.

Since Higher Hopes started, the nonprofit has distributed 750,000 pounds of food. This year Higher Hopes aims to distribute 315,000 pounds of food. They are also giving out fresh milk, with the goal of giving out 7,000 gallons this year.

Summer is an especially important time, Bill says, because during the holidays there’s a lot of attention to help those in need but after Jan. 1 the attention drops off.

At a School Food Mobile distribution at Kennedy Early Childhood Center in Warren on a blistering hot May afternoon, Darlene Elm of Center Line was picking up food. She’s raising her five grandchildren on her own because their mother is battling substance abuse problems. The food helps her out because she doesn’t get food assistance.

“It’s helpful at the end of the month when food gets low,” she says, adding she doesn’t get her check until the third of the month.

Bill and his team do all of this in their spare time and on donations. All the money they raise go to support the food distributions.

Thanks to Bill and his team for all you do to help families in need! Find out more about Higher Hopes on its website.

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