TACOMA, Wash. — Nora Lee Walker was one of the founding members of the Allen Pantry Food Bank at Allen A.M.E. Church. Always willing to lend a helping hand, Walker would dedicate almost half of her week to serve those in need in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, values she passed down to her granddaughter, LeNora Hawkins-Ponzo.
“She was the matriarch of the Hilltop community,” Ponzo recalled. “One of the things she instilled in us was to always feed people when they’re hungry.”
After Walker’s death in 2013, Ponzo gathered her relatives together to create the Nora Lee Walker Foundation, which continues the work Walker performed in the Hilltop neighborhood.
The Foundation spends every Thanksgiving preparing a meal for Tacoma’s most vulnerable members. The goal this year is to distribute at least 250 plates to residents in Wright Park and Pacific Avenue, and although Ponzo says preparing all this food wasn’t easy, the idea is to show people that they’re important and worth the effort.
“You feed people what you eat, you don’t feed them scraps,” Ponzo said. “It was important to us when we started to make sure they get the same meal we get. We didn’t want to skip or scamp on anything, because they’re deserving just like everybody else.”
Now with every meal served, Ponzo knows that her grandmother’s legacy is still alive and in good hands.
“She’s extremely proud of us. I think she’s extremely proud.”