July 11, 2010
IT Instructor Who Launched Food Pantry To Help Those in Need
Is Recognized as AFT Everyday Hero
SEATTLE—Andreas Czerkas, an instructor of information systems at the Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin, is to be honored as an “AFT Everyday Hero” Sunday at the AFT’s national convention for his exceptional commitment to his community.
The awards, new this year, are presented to members from each of AFT’s five employee constituencies, plus a retiree. Czerkas was chosen from among five finalists in the higher education division. The award recognizes an individual or group who has had a profound impact on the workplace or has performed extraordinary community service outside of the job.
Czerkas and his wife, Jenny, are co-directors of the River Food Pantry, which they started four years ago in a warehouse in Madison. Families living in poverty have found a lifeline in the pantry, which provides groceries, hot meals, clothing, household goods and furniture to a rising number of people in need.
Last year, the pantry served 21,000 families, a 65 percent increase from the year before. In the first four months of this year, with the Midwest still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession, demand for aid was up 55 percent at what is now the county’s largest food pantry.
Czerkas is a member of the MATC Full-Time Teachers’ Union, Local 243.
The AFT is holding its biennial convention July 7-11 in Seattle. Coming together under the theme “Building Futures Together,” more than 3,000 delegates will vote on major union policies that address the need to save and strengthen public education, build common cause with communities, and improve the institutions in which our members work.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.