“Emma’s Angels really helps create, build, and strengthen those community bonds – which is exactly what we worked to achieve at Level One, and what we’re continuing to foster as part of First Merchants Bank,” she explained. “I’m really, really proud of what we’ve managed to build here – both inside the four walls of our bank and out in the community.”
And she especially has a heart for local seniors in senior-living facilities – who may struggle with putting food on the table.
“It’s a population that’s primarily on limited fixed income, many are no longer able to drive, so they can lack access to fresh food,” Eva explained. “We work with local corporations and community partners who provide us with a vast array of food items including meat, produce, pastries, and pantry staples – and then we get it to the right places.”
Emma’s Angels Feeding Network also partners with food pantries run by local churches to help share the love. In fact, that’s how the project got started.
“In 2007 my husband and I volunteered with a church feeding program geared towards seniors and we just fell in love with it,” Eva shared. “The inspiration later led to the formation of Emma’s Angels.”
It’s a small, grassroots volunteer group that makes a big impact.
“We started off feeding fifteen families per week and we have grown to feed over five thousand seniors each month,” Eva said. “With the number of seniors and families we feed, people are surprised to learn that we don’t work for a food company. We’re volunteers, we pay for the transportation expenses every weekend out of our own pocket. The communities we serve have become like family, and Emma’s Angels is a true mission from the heart.”
Ultimately, Emma’s Angels is about love and caring for your community – a lesson imparted to Randell by the original Emma, and one that Eva hopes they’ll be able to impart to their daughter, also named Emma.
“She’s nine now, but she comes with us most weekends – and has since she was very young,” Eva said. “Even when she was so small she could only carry one loaf of bread at a time, she’s been right there with us helping. We want to raise her to understand the importance of helping others and giving back to her community.”
Eva also volunteers her time as a representative of the bank, in a mentorship and job exploration partnership with a local school, encouraging other employees to volunteer, and more.
“I’ve been so fortunate in my life and what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Eva said. “It’s why I think it’s so important to help other people – because I’ve been helped by so many people.”