September 26, 2023
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Nick Beckman advised his story to producer Ann Marie Awad for an episode of The Every day Rally podcast. It has been edited for size and readability.

There have been numerous moments in Fort Myers the place I didn’t actually suppose that I may maintain going. That is after eight days of 18-hour days. I’d sit in a automotive for five, 10 minutes and get off my toes, and simply attempt to compose myself and reset. And I’d simply discover myself sobbing and I’d name my spouse and say, “I don’t know the way I can get up on my toes once more and go once more.”

There have been 20 or 30 of us on website there. You’d go searching and also you’d know who had simply come again from having a cry. Each every so often, you go as much as a pal, a coworker, a colleague, you could have a hug, you shake it off, and you progress on and maintain doing the work forward of you.

Individuals simply name me Beckman. I’m right here at Mercy Cooks’ Headquarters in Portsmouth, Virginia. I’m the director of logistics and services, which implies I oversee all of our tools, all of our kitchen trailers and assist automobiles.

Mercy Cooks is a faith-based catastrophe reduction nonprofit. We purpose to prepare dinner and serve chef-prepared scorching meals within the wake of pure disasters and nationwide emergencies to victims, volunteers, first responders, anybody who’s hungry.

I’ve a spouse who additionally works at Mercy Cooks, after which a younger son, and two extra on the way in which. So, by the autumn I’ll have three sons. I’d say my household is my first precedence, and my ardour for certain. I like being a dad. I believe it’s simply the best factor that anybody can do, is be a mum or dad. However Mercy Cooks is excessive up on the listing. We are saying usually round right here that it’s greater than a job, as a result of it takes much more of your consideration and your care than most jobs do.

What we do is not like anything on the earth. In the event you have a look at catastrophe zones, you see numerous meals, lots of people that do meals. However oftentimes it’s scorching canines, hamburgers, cheese sandwiches. One thing very easy and low cost to make for lots of people. And that’s nice. We at all times say that any meals is sweet within the wake of a catastrophe, when somebody’s misplaced the whole lot, their fridge is ineffective, the pantry is perhaps gone. We consider that something is best than nothing. However we additionally consider that there’s a method to serve with excellence, and that comes with numerous additional steps. We may exit and put cheese on bread and hand it out and name it a day, however we consider {that a} meal in a field with a scorching major dish, no matter it could be, recent inexperienced salad, a chunk of fruit, a stunning piece of bread and a dessert altogether means a complete lot extra to somebody than a cheese sandwich or a hotdog.

Hurricane Ian struck Fort Myers in early October of 2022, and we mobilized. It was our greatest mobilization ever.

After two days in Fort Myers, all of us acquired collectively and stated, “We’d like one other kitchen. We’d like extra capability. We have to be doing extra.” We burned via a complete truck of recent groceries in a day and a half. Once more, each single meal is hand made. It comes with love, and it’s an actual meal and all that. Means numerous onerous work.

I consider name time was 4:45 AM, and we muster, and we pray over our day forward, and the chance to serve people of their hardest time. If there’s meals for us, you seize one thing actually fast. After which it’s about pulling the meals off of the vans for the day. We’re scratch cooking. So once we get onions, we get baggage of onions and it takes a group of volunteers to cube these onions, earlier than they’ll go in a skillet. There’s hen to cut, there’s meat to smoke. You’re simply doing this, that, and the whole lot, and impulsively you lookup and it’s 5:00 PM and also you haven’t eaten.

There have been numerous moments in Fort Myers the place I actually considered giving up and chucking up the sponge and saying, Mercy Cooks is simply too onerous. I can’t do it. I gained’t do it. I wish to be with my household.

I talked to my spouse, I talked to my coworkers, and prayed it via, and I say, Mercy Cooks isn’t a job, it’s a calling. For these of us who’re honored to listen to that decision and reply, you don’t get to only quit when the going will get powerful. As a result of then you definately drive out, and also you see the faces of the individuals that you just’re touching with a meal, and also you understand that these individuals haven’t given up both they usually misplaced the whole lot. I nonetheless have a home. I nonetheless have a mattress. And my household’s okay again house.

We at all times speak in regards to the one at Mercy Cooks. We make 20,000 meals a day. And it’s straightforward to only say, Yeah, we did 20,000 meals at this time. That’s unimaginable. Strategy to go group. However that’s 20,000 particular person individuals who acquired touched by a meal. And so on the finish of the day, oftentimes we’ll get collectively and the query is posed: Who’s your one at this time?

In Fort Myers for me I used to be simply taking a minute for myself to stroll down the three-quarter-mile lengthy drive-thru line that we had for individuals ready to get meals, waving and smiling and saying good day.

There was a bit of boy in a automotive together with his mother, and he had a bit of crayon-drawn signal that stated, thanks, Mercy Cooks. He was holding it up out the window at the back of this beat up previous automotive. I may inform his mother was drained. However I may additionally see in her face a bit of little bit of hope, ready within the drive-thru line, that she was gonna get to feed him at this time. And his little thanks word, that was actually particular for me, as a result of I do know what I’d do for my son to get him meals within the wake of a cataclysmic occasion like this, and I’d wait days for a scorching meal for my son.

I didn’t say something. I waved and smiled and moved on, however that’s one thing that’ll persist with me.

The largest factor I realized in Fort Myers is the capability for human endurance is unimaginable, however the capability for love between us as people is even even larger. As onerous as it’s to see somebody on their worst day and a neighborhood ravaged by a storm like this, it’s at all times actually, actually cool to see how a neighborhood can come collectively, and love one another. Lots of occasions we see volunteers who will present as much as serve with us, who don’t have a house to return to on the finish of the day serving with us. They’ve been affected simply the identical as everyone else of their neighborhood, and but they select to come back out and serve their neighborhood with us. They might be at house speaking to the insurance coverage firm and sorting via the rubble of their belongings, however they step out of that, and step into service for his or her neighborhood.

On day 16 of my 18-hour days, I’m operating on little or no sleep, a complete lot of caffeine, and little or no meals. My alarm goes off at 5:30 AM and I say, There’s no likelihood I can transfer my toes off the bed. There’s no likelihood I can swing my toes off this air mattress and get up and placed on my dirty garments that haven’t been cleaned and get again on the market and do the work. There’s simply no manner. After which I sit for 10 extra seconds with my eyes closed and I take into consideration the earlier 15 days the place I did actually get my toes off the bed.

For me, I believe trying again usually is my greatest method to transfer ahead, trusting that it has been achieved. There’s nothing right here that I haven’t achieved earlier than. I do know the work forward of me. I do know that I’ve achieved it and might do it. It’s simply sort of that psychological step of telling your self I can actually do that as a result of I’ve actually achieved this.

Nick Beckman is Director of Logistics and Services for Mercy Cooks, a winner of the 2022 Defender Service Award, established by Land Rover. These awards acknowledge the nonprofits doing selfless service for his or her communities daily. You possibly can be taught extra about Mercy Cooks and their work at

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