Three mornings a week, Mary Gloria crawls out of bed to serve a hot breakfast to 45-65 day laborers. A native Arizonian and mother of 17 children, Gloria has been volunteering since her children were small. In the beginning there was the PTO and church involvement, then she turned her energy to other community needs while she made plans to retire and devote her life to starting Queen Creek’s premier organization, Pan de Vida to serve the needs of low-income children, the elderly, the hungry and the homeless. First she wrote a business plan, and then she solicited funding, learned how to write grants, approached potential donors, met with community leaders and visited homes of those needing service. She recruits volunteers to visit and transport homebound seniors and disabled citizens to doctor appointments, provides low income folks with food items, helped to form a clothing bank, started a senior program, volunteers with Valley of the Sun United Way and contributes to every community event. She also demonstrates great courage and compassion by tackling controversial issues such as the politically unpopular Day Labor Center. Mary is not part of the volunteer effort in her town; she’s at the center of it. She is a leader because she is already working on a solution while others are still seeing only the problem.
In her own words, “I can’t imagine sitting in front of a television and living other peoples lives when there are so many wonderful people to meet and so much to do.”