Libertyville Rotary honors couple with service award

  • Bill Rickert, left, chairman of Libertyville Sunrise Rotary's Service Above Self Award selection committee, and outgoing LSR President Tom Zengeler, right, congratulate Sue and Hasu Ghandi on their award.

    Bill Rickert, left, chairman of Libertyville Sunrise Rotary's Service Above Self Award selection committee, and outgoing LSR President Tom Zengeler, right, congratulate Sue and Hasu Ghandi on their award.

 
 
Updated 7/29/2021 1:22 PM

Libertyville Sunrise Rotary recently presented the club's 2021 Service Above Self award to Sue and Hasu Ghandi, owners of Sue's Pantry in Vernon Hills.

Sue's Pantry has provided meals for homeless families throughout parts of Lake and Cook counties for the past 12 years. "Service Above Self" is the Rotary International motto. The award is given by local chapters to those whose work in the community reflects the spirit of Service Above Self, even though the recipients are not Rotarians at the time they earn the award.

 

In 2008, Sue and Hasu Gandhi both lost corporate jobs in the economic downturn. Seeing an unfilled need to help the homeless, Sue chose not to return to the corporate world; rather, she filled the gap by cooking and serving meals to the homeless, all with Hasu's support.

Over time, their passion evolved into providing food and household necessities to those in need, with their garage serving as a "shopping center" for individuals and groups needing assistance.

Thus, "Sue's Pantry" was born, and now the Vernon Hills organization serves approximately 200 families weekly.

In addition to food and household goods, the pantry also provides rent, bus passes, schoolbooks and insurance payments as crises develop. The Ghandhis estimate that approximately $15,000 from small donations and their own savings have kept the pantry actively serving those in need.

On average, the Ghandis spend 35 to 40 hours per week operating Sue's Pantry, which has previously been featured on NBC News and the Chicago Tribune.

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According to Sue and Hasu, "We've been blessed to be on this earth as a human, and it is our moral responsibility to help those around us."

It is their plan to further their work by applying for Section 501(c)3 designation as a not-for-profit organization for Sue's Pantry.

About half of the food and supplies are picked up by those in need in person at Sue's Pantry, while the other half is delivered by volunteers. Every week, four or five volunteers carry carloads of food and supplies to individuals and distribution points in various local communities, including Waukegan, Round Lake, Wheeling, Palatine and even Chicago.

Some of the larger distribution points include the Mormon Church in Gages Lake, DLB Safe Haven in Waukegan and ICNA Relief in Rogers Park. In addition to Sue and Hasu, volunteers from a group called "Community Keepers" help Sue's Pantry by picking up donated food from Costco, Jewel, and Trader Joe's for distribution at the pantry.

The 2021 Service Above Self award was presented at the final business meeting presided over by Tom Zengeler, now the Immediate Past President of LSR.

"I firmly believe recognizing other folks in the community who share Rotary International's values is important for our local chapter," Zengeler said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"One of the goals I established when becoming president was recommitting to presenting the Service Above Self award, and we could not have had a better qualified duo than Sue and Hasu Ghandi to receive the award. Congratulations to them and everyone else who helps make Sue's Pantry a success."

For more information about Rotary International, visit www.rotary.org or contact LSR President Rich Schoeneman at richardshoes@aol.com or (847) 687-3617.

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