“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
Those words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seem particularly prophetic for staff at USDA Rural Development in Arizona.
As staff was planning for the federal Martin Luther King Day of Service, we received news that our friend on the USDA Phoenix building cleaning crew, Elia Zepeda, was ill and in the hospital. Within days she slipped into a coma and died.
Elia’s cheerful personality greeted many USDA Rural Development employees at the Arizona State Office as they entered or exited the building each day. Although we never saw her in anything but her blue Goodwill uniform, it was clear that, although she loved her job, she was much more than a “cleaning lady.”
Co-workers at Goodwill and so many of the workers for the federal agencies at the building where she worked were stunned and saddened by her passing.
USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Specialist Vanessa Garcia had a great idea that would both serve the community and honor Elia: Donate our MLK Day of Service time to the Goodwill Center where Elia had been trained and employed.
Earlier this month, staff donated their hours of service to sort and cart donations at the Goodwill Center in Elia’s name. Working in the large warehouse where donations are received, USDA staff got a clearer understanding of not only the process involved, but also of the strong work ethic, friendships and confidence that are fostered through both the work and the bond among co-workers.
To find out more about how you can serve, click here.