Feeding the hungry regardless of circumstances.

From High School Volunteer to Board Member

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From High School Volunteer to Board Member

A Community Soup Kitchen Memoir from Sade Heard pictured here with her mom

A Community Soup Kitchen Memoir from Sade Heard

In 2004, I first started volunteering at Community Soup Kitchen (CSK) when I was a senior in high school. At the time, James Hillhouse High School required students to complete twenty hours of community service in order to graduate. My mother, Dianne Grant served as the Dining Room Supervisor at CSK and quickly put my friends and I to good use. Every Saturday, we would walk down to Broadway and volunteer at the soup kitchen, even after our hours of community service were fulfilled. Volunteering as a teenager gave me a new outlook on life and exposed me to the food-insecure community in New Haven. Personally, I think this should be a requirement for every high school student, as it allows you to practice gratitude. This mere experience would one day pave the way for me to serve on the Executive Board for CSK.

Even after my mother’s passing in 2012, I continued to volunteer at the soup kitchen on my days off from work because in the midst of grieving; familiarity was a necessity for me. The staff at CSK are family to me, I had grown up around CSK veterans like David O’Sullivan, Lezley, Harold, Poncho, Rory, and Mike; they weren’t just my mother’s co-workers, but her friends. My mother ran a tight ship at CSK, she was one of those people that you knew better than to try. Despite her firm but fair demeanor, she was deeply loved by patrons at the soup kitchen. I can remember a large number of them had attended her memorial service, and testified how she had fed them for years. Later in 2012, she was awarded posthumously for her work of twelve years serving the hungry people of New Haven by CSK. In 2013, she and CSK were also honored by the Theta Epsilon Omega (TEO) Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® at their Pearl Perfection Annual Scholarship Dinner Dance for their work in the community. It was very clear to me that my mother had a left behind a legacy to be reckoned with.

After graduating with honors with my Masters’ Degree of Science in Human Services from Albertus Magnus College, I followed behind in my mother’s footsteps to pursue a career in human services. Though it can be a challenging field to work in, the reward is always worth it. My path has included servicing underprivileged populations such as substance abuse users, the food insecure, federal inmates, foster children, and those who struggle with mental health.

In Spring 2022, I became a member of Tau Xi Omega (TXO) Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® which continued my passion to serve others. I supposed after that, it was probably only a matter of time before I became an Executive Board Member of CSK in January 2024.

My sorority implemented the AKA CHIPP™ program which provides children in need with healthy non-perishable meals to take home from school every weekend. As AKA CHIPP™ Chairman, I was challenged with the daunting task of how we could supply more meals for our partnered school, Helen Street throughout the school year. A lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that having AKA CHIPP™ partner with CSK just may be the answer I needed. The partnership aims to streamline operations and increase efficiency in delivering AKA CHIPP™ meals to students at the Helen Street School in Hamden, CT. CSK will supply non-perishable food items for up to 65 AKA CHIPP™ Power Packs each week. It’s going to be really exciting to see TXO and CSK work directly together to address childhood hunger in Connecticut.

Accepting an Award for CSK Service

Over a twenty-year span, I have continued to volunteer at CSK. Why? Someone may ask. The answer is simple, it keeps me grounded and in touch with reality. The reality that despite Connecticut being considered as a “wealthy” state, it is estimated that over 380,000 Connecticut residents struggle with hunger. This on-going crisis has yet to be alleviated. The soup kitchen has given so much to others and myself for almost 50 years, it only feels right to return the service now that I am truly able to do so. I never dreamed as a teenager that I would be able to honor my mother’s legacy in a way that benefits the food-insecure community in Connecticut; I humbly thank Connecticut Soup Kitchen for this amazing opportunity.


Sade Heard, MS

Executive Board Member

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  1. I am so proud of you and the way you are able to honor your mother’s legacy! 💖💚

  2. a great story. So proud of you Sade

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