This article first appeared in the Hobbs News-Sun.
Impact is a tricky thing to measure. The tendency is to try to find a number or some statistic that can concisely explain impact. In reality, impact is much more complicated.
A soup kitchen is a direct service with an easy-to-track metric – how many people received a hot meal. For Renee Madron, who has served as executive director to Isaiah’s Soup Kitchen for 30 years, that number is known by heart. She knows that number because numbers are required to try to explain impact, but it is the people that Renee really knows. Renee serves a mission. She has a God-fueled passion to fill empty stomachs and pour her life into being a light in a dark part of the community. She has spent 30 years making personal sacrifices and finding ways to reach people, embrace them where they are, and be a resource to get them through hard times.
I have had the great fortune to serve lunch at Isaiah’s Soup Kitchen and watched as Renee greeted every person by name. She held their hand, asked about their children, and prayed for them without hesitation. Renee asked about doctor visits, encouraged people as they applied for jobs, and reprimanded anyone who would talk badly about themselves or others. When a man came up to me and asked for money, Renee stepped in, grabbed his hand and said, “We are going to pray that you find good honest work and improve your life.” I stood amazed as he confessed about not looking as hard as he could and thanked Renee for the prayer.
In my time working with Renee, never once has she referred to clients, patrons, or customers. Renee did not have any of those. Anyone who entered the doors were Renee’s “people.” Because of her passion and commitment to her people over the last 30 years, the community has united behind the mission of Isaiah’s Soup Kitchen. Community members have provided funding. Churches have helped with renovations. Businesses have served and donated. Farmers have provided crops, and people have gathered from all over to serve.
How do you measure Renee’s impact? I do not know. Maybe it is not measured but felt. Maybe a community rallies behind it. Lives are changed, people are moved, and a tiny kitchen on the corner of Harden and Linam becomes a beacon of solitude for all those left hungry and cold. Thank you, Renee, for your 30 years of serving this community. Your impact in this community is immeasurable!
David Reed is the Chief Operating Officer for the JF Maddox Foundation, a private family foundation focused on cultivating big-picture possibilities in Lea County, New Mexico. Through its investments, scholarship program, and leadership institute, the JF Maddox Foundation has transformed the Lea County community bringing about the changes that residents thrive on for generations.