In January, we said farewell to Mike Mendez and Ms. Ammer Johnson, two of TASK’s longest serving employees. With nearly 50 years of collective experience serving our patrons, the dynamic duo who helped usher new volunteers and deliver healthy meals, have hung up their aprons to retire.
Mendez has been with TASK since its humble beginnings almost 40 years, including the time when we served meals from a church parking lot. He watched TASK grow from serving 300 meals a week to now nearly 1,000 meals a day.
“We used to make a big pot of soup, maybe 20 chickens in a pot with water and vegetables — they’d take that and go,” Mendez recalled “There were no places to sit down — some days were cold, but people need to eat. We had to do it”
That same feed first philosophy captured the heart of Ammer Johnson. Affectionately called Ms. Ammer, she shared 15 years of her life with TASK and its patrons.
“Before I worked at TASK, I use to refer people here all the time,” said Ammer, who came to TASK as a retired social worker. I’d say, ‘they will feed you and they will treat you nice.’ Food is something we all need to survive, but our attitudes and how we serve — that can change somebody’s life and it happens right here. “
We at TASK will certainly miss Mike and Ms. Ammer. There will never be anyone quite like them. At his retirement party, Mike laughed and said “I am oldest one here. Everyone who I worked with left. They’re new faces, a new building, we’re bigger – everything is different. It’s a new generation.”
Indeed, the faces at TASK will continue to change as we grow. But, the legacy of dedication to dignified service left by Mike and Ms. Ammer will undoubtedly carry on.