The News recently sat down with Williams Food Bank Director and St. Agnes Apartments Manager Guy Mikkelsen to find out what a typical day looks like.
How long have you been involved with the Food Bank?
The Food Bank started here at St. Agnes in 2004. My wife Angie and I took it over when other local food banks were closing.
Millie Reed and Joe and Georgia Bowman had small pantries, and when they retired most of the assistance had gone away, so we had an opportunity in the place and all the pieces fit together. So it started small though. We began passing the food out from here in '04.
How long have you been involved with St. Agnes Apartments?
We moved here for me to be the apartment manager in 1992. So it was 21 years this past November.
How did you get involved with the apartments?
We came to Arizona from Tampa, Fla. I had gone out there after college and met my wife in Florida and convinced her to move out to Arizona.
Phoenix was our segue. The company that owns St. Agnes, the Foundation for Senior Living, is based in Phoenix and I was able to get the job opportunity through them. I had worked for them actually as a teenager in my high school years at a nursing home, and my father has been the CEO and president of the company for 30 years.
What's a typical day like?
I love our small town where I can combine work responsibilities with being available for my family as well. I usually am dropping the kids off to school and heading to work at the normal time around 8.
I start pretty slow, get organized for the day. I maybe wear my janitor hat and do some picking up and planning for what's next.
There's responsibilities for the apartments as well as for the Food Bank. So I decide where my focus is going to be. It's usually split throughout the day. But I just manage those responsibilities as the deadlines and different things come up.
Our Food Bank distribution is always on Fridays so preparing for and collecting the food through the week is a daily responsibility that has to happen at some point during the day.
The local Safeway gives me food every day through the week. I will go and check to see what sort of gleanings they have for the day.
There's also two deliveries a month where a semi truck will come up from Phoenix and drop off commodities and bulk items from St. Mary's Food Bank, which is the majority of the resources we're able to bring into town.
And I go to Flagstaff every Friday morning on a gleaning route to the other Safeway stores and Bashas' stores that Joe Bowman started over 20 years ago, and I continue on to this day.
Those stores give us quite a bit of fresh food for that same day distribution. We're able to bring back fresh bread as well as other departments, dairy, deli and those types of things, that if we give it out right away are nice items to have and still fresh enough to eat.
We're very appreciative of all the support from those stores of course. Those long-term relationships have really made the difference for the success of the Food Bank here.
What's the best part of your job?
I think the best part of working and being involved here with the senior citizens, as well as seeing people who are in need of a helping hand, is being that for them and someone they can turn to when they're in that circumstance.
Senior citizens here have led amazing lives and being around them gives me a lot of life experience that I couldn't live myself in an entire lifetime. Their stories and friendships really give me a sense that I've taken in a lot of the last century. So I value their experiences and sharing them with me a lot.
And of course it is fulfilling to be able to help others on a regular basis. Many people experience that through the holidays like we've just had where that joy of giving to someone else kind of comes to the forefront, and I feel fortunate to have that experience throughout the year.
What's the worst part about your job?
The worst part I guess is sometimes with the elderly, end of life situations can be difficult emotionally for family members as well as for the residents.
I think being here for those people in that hour of their life is rewarding, but it is challenging and difficult at times. I've seen a lot of good people come and go from St. Agnes over the years, and there's a bittersweet sadness to knowing and then losing those friendships.
What are your goals for the Food Bank or the apartments?
I'm looking forward to 2014 with a possibility of expanding our facility here and the office area with a better waiting area and more storage for both the Food Bank and my apartment needs.
We added a lot of concrete this year, which has been really helpful and exciting. I know concrete isn't supposed to be exciting, but it was a nice upgrade for us. So we're going to build on those plans and continue one piece at a time until our vision is complete here.
We'll maybe add one more storage bay/delivery bay for the Food Bank and a new area in the front for both residents and Food Bank clients to enjoy and benefit from. In 2014 for sure we're going to try to expand that much at least.
We're going to redo the patio with a shingled roof, more of a sheltered area but maybe even a built-in barbecue or power out there so we can have some kind of roll down sides, half wall or something, that will help keep the weather out. If we really needed to use it as a waiting area in bad weather, we want to make it hospitable. Because it is difficult with our four seasons sometimes to have a crowd of people that they're either cold or they're hot or they're in rain. That would be a big improvement to have a more substantial waiting area, so that's a definite goal.
And just to keep St. Agnes going. It's a 33-year-old complex. It's practically like home. I've been here so long you get invested, which makes it nice for a job, too. I don't really feel like I'm having to trudge off to "work."