Attendees of the 16th Annual Zonta Yellow Rose Luncheon had the opportunity to hear from entrepreneur and reality TV star, Robbie Montgomery. Montgomery, a former backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, is the owner of Sweetie Pie’s, a St. Louis landmark soul food restaurant. She was honored with the Celebration Award from the Zonta Club of Jefferson City for her work to offer second chances to ex-offenders through a positive employment environment. Robbie motivated the audience reminding them to always believe in themselves and never give up. Always gracious, Miss Montgomery remained long after the luncheon ended to pose for pictures with luncheon attendees.
Within months, Peggy had left her computer programming job to become the Executive Director of the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri! Although the message was clear to Peggy that she was the one meant to do something, the path forward was not so straight. In 1992, when Peggy arrived, the Food Bank was struggling, and by some accounts, was on the verge of closing its doors. That year, the Food Bank distributed 3 million pounds of food. As Peggy retired at the end of 2014, the Food Bank was distributing a record 36.5 million pounds of food to 131 hunger relief agencies and 138 Buddy Pack schools in its 32 county service area.
In the intervening 22 years, Peggy built a Food Bank that is considered one of the best in the country. A leader in providing access to nutrition to the 114,000 Missourians served monthly by the Food Bank and its member agencies, the Food Bank does not charge member agencies for its food. Under Peggy’s leadership, the Food Bank became one of the first two agencies in the country to do so, and today is joined by only 13 others in this practice. Peggy believes this is essential to getting food to those who need it.
Peggy instituted the “Score Against Hunger” program in conjunction with Mizzou athletics, raising over $8 million for the Food Bank since its inception. When she knew school kids were going home on the weekends without access to food provided to them during the school week, she instituted the Buddy Pack program. Today, 7,000 kids take home back packs filled with food each weekend to ensure kids don’t go hungry. Peggy also developed a volunteer base that in 2012 contributed enough hours to equal 43 full time employees!
Although Peggy and the Food Bank are based in Columbia, the Food Bank supports member agencies in the Jefferson City area including the Samaritan Center, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Service, Salvation Army, and Jefferson City Day Care. In addition, several of the Food Bank’s board members are from Jefferson City, including Claudia Kehoe, Ann Littlefield, Lee Wilbers, and Mary Winter.
Angela Hirsch has dedicated her life to ensuring that the lives of those she touches are left better than when they first met. She is a true advocate. Since her graduation from college in 1993 she has only grown in her commitment to help those without a voice or hope. In 1995 she developed a victim advocacy program that provided court and crisis intervention advocacy services to victims of domestic and sexual violence that was the first of its kind in Missouri. Following that, she developed a victim services program for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and was hired as the first Victim Advocate for that office. Angela has served as the Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving where she expanded the state-wide victim services. Most recently, she is the Community Services Director for Central Missouri Community Action where she advocates for those in poverty and at risk as she works with communities to develop solutions to poverty.
When asked to give advice to her 16-year-old self, she encourages us to “respect different opinions, but don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in”. She tells herself and all of us to “find goodness, show kindness, and strive for greatness”.
Yvonne Matthews is currently the Acting Dean for Lincoln University College of Agricultural and Natural Sciences. She has worked with Lincoln University since 1989 in several capacities providing research-based education to children, families, and the elderly through Cooperative Extension. She is committed to improving the quality of life of people living in the state of Missouri. Yvonne continues this commitment to help others by assisting at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Columbia, Missouri. She serves as a Worship Leader, Steward and Finance Committee member. She established a children’s puppetry ministry and is a member of the praise dance ministry for women over fifty. She was involved in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Chi Omega Chapter’s “An Evening with the Sisters Reading Theater.” The event raised money for scholarships and for 18 years Yvonne produced, directed and performed in shows.
To her 16-year-old self, Yvonne will remind herself of the inspirational poems she has read by Paul Laurence Dunbar and Maya Angelou. She, like the “caged bird”, will depend on God’s love and find her way. She will grow in confidence and become a role model to many at the university and in her communities.
As a part of Zonta International, the Zonta Club of Jefferson City is a service organization of professional women celebrating 68 years of work supporting women in the mid-Missouri area and around the world. Over the past 16 years, proceeds from the Jefferson City Yellow Rose Luncheon have provided 74 Scholarships and over $200,000 to local women. Tickets to the luncheon are $35 and available to the general public. Additionally, there are opportunities for sponsorships and expo booths that support scholarships and highlight local businesses for all attendees. Mark your calendars for the 2016 Luncheon on May 17, 2016!!
Sr. Peggy Bonnot
Sallie Moses Jacobs
Jimmy Kay Sanders