Sorority Sisters Partner to Fight Hunger
The simple act of meeting for lunch twice a year to celebrate each other’s birthdays has kept two sorority sisters connected since their days at Indiana University. In the past two years, that friendship has turned into a partnership as the two have created a nonprofit serving communities in need.
Castle Pines resident Kim Sasko and Patti Theil of Evergreen are co-founders of Food Insecurity Relief and Solutions Today (FIRST). They launched FIRST at the beginning of the pandemic in spring 2020, and have been able to help thousands of people fighting hunger. “We were both looking for something to do,” recalls Sasko.
Sasko and her husband, Hal Shearer, had just become empty nesters. Theil had spent a year taking care of her husband, Dave, as he went through treatment for pancreatic cancer.
“When he was cancer free, Patti and I thought ‘let’s do something good for our community and for Colorado,’” said Sasko.
Food insecurity has always been a prevalent issue but increased significantly during the past two years. “In our first year, we actually raised about $100,000 and provided more than 100,000 meals,” said Sasko. “The majority of the meals stayed in Colorado.”
FIRST provides food and supplies to nonprofit partners serving local communities to include Denver Rescue Mission, Evergreen Christian Outreach and Douglas County’s Help & Hope Center. It also provided more than 14,000 meals to the El Paso Food Bank in Texas.
“Anytime we met a group that needed something that was shelf-stable food, we provided it,” Sasko said. In addition, FIRST donated a large tent which is being used by the food bank employees and the Texas National Guard for intake purposes.
Volunteering has always been a part of their lives. Founding FIRST has given the co-founders an opportunity to see a different kind of volunteerism.
“It’s heartwarming,” Sasko shared. “Giving has such a rewarding feeling.”
The friends plan to continue giving back to the community, but will shift focus to serve smaller communities in Colorado. Sasko plans to bring a group of volunteers together in Castle Pines to sort food into family size packaging with cooking instructions to feed families served by the Help & Hope Center.
For now, Sasko is comforting Theil who is dealing with the loss of her husband. Dave Theil passed away on May 16, the day after his 64th birthday, after a recurrence of pancreatic cancer.
FIRST is raising money in his honor. Donations can be made through the website at foodinsecurityandreliefsolutionstoday.org. To contact Sasko directly, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mindy Stone Tappan; photo courtesy of Kim Sasko