MERRILL (WAOW) - The generosity of neighbors and friends who helped Dave Raddenbach rebuild his property after the 2011 tornado in Merrill inspired him to give back to the community.
"The F3 went right over my house and it took out two sides and knocked down 25 to 30 trees. I saw 500 man hours of work in my yard and that is really humbling," Raddenbach said.
After that experience, Raddenbach decided to devote his time working in Merrill area soup kitchens. "It builds your faith and it's great. Life is good," he said.
Raddenbach now organizes "Dinner @ 5" at St. Stephens Church on Mondays and cooks for another one in the Merrill Area Community Enrichment Center (MACEC).
For volunteering to help feed hundreds of people each week, Raddenbach is the November recipient of a Jefferson Award, a monthly tribute to people who unselfishly help others.
"He is really making a difference. He goes above and beyond and if he could he would serve a community meal every day of the week, " MACEC Director Tammy Mracheck said. "Some people come for the meals out of economic necessity and others simply for the friendship and being able to sit down to eat with others. He always makes everyone feel so welcome."
Raddenbach also reached out to find more ways to make sure people don't go hungry. He discovered a program called Feeding America, which distributes food to charitable programs. He transports the food to St. Stephens for distribution to community members.
"Dave has stated that his main mission is to feed God's children every day of the week! He has a heart of gold and puts others' needs before his," Mrachek said.