We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sheila Dion, Founder and Executive Director of Erin’s Angels of CNY. Sheila founded the organization to provide essential resources and support to students facing food insecurity.
The love for what she does comes from the fulfillment she derives in making a tangible difference in the lives of young people. Being able to contribute to a community where individuals can pursue their educational goals without hunger as a barrier is immensely rewarding. Witnessing the positive impact of Erin's Angels on the lives of students fuels her passion and dedication to the cause. Moreover, the joy comes from the sense of community and collaboration that is fostered through this initiative. Working together with volunteers, local businesses, and other organizations to create a supportive network brings a sense of unity and shared purpose.
The love for this work is also rooted in the belief that through Erin's Angels of CNY, we are not just addressing an immediate need but also fostering a sense of empowerment and resilience within the student community. By providing resources and support, we are contributing to a foundation that enables students to overcome challenges and thrive in their academic journey.
Q: What inspired you to start your business, or begin in this line of work?
Sheila: “I was inspired to start Erin’s Angels when I worked in the food service department at the Phoenix Central School District and saw the need with so many children who were hungry. I witnessed firsthand the significant number of students facing food insecurity and I was inspired by their resilience and motivated to make a difference. I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to focus on their education without the burden of hunger. The prevalence of food insecurity among students is a pressing issue that I am determined to tackle, recognizing its impact on academic success and overall quality of life. ”
Q: Can you describe what sets your business apart from others in your industry?
Sheila: “While many programs focus solely on the school year, we're proud to be a year-round advocate for ending hunger in our community! At Erin's Angels, our commitment doesn't stop when the school year ends. We recognize that hunger doesn't take a break, so neither do we. Our programs run throughout the entire year, ensuring continuous support for families facing food insecurity.”
Q: What's your best piece of advice for someone just starting out?
Sheila: “Talk to everyone about what your mission and passion is. Keep putting your dreams and goals out to the universe! And never, ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it!!!”
Q: What has been your biggest professional challenge and how did you overcome it?
Sheila: “The challenge of going from a lunch lady to nonprofit executive director is certainly a hurdle! I had to learn how to navigate the legal requirements, develop a clear mission and vision, create a strategy for fundraising and sustainability, and effectively develop a board. Just to name a few!”
Q: Any exciting news, future plans, or projects you are working on or would like to announce?
Sheila: “Our partnership with the Upstate Foundation is the most exciting venture we have right now. This collaboration aims to ensure the perpetuity of our mission. The partnership opens doors to sustainable funding, expanded outreach, and the ability to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.”
Q: What's your favorite non-business activity and why?
Sheila: “I love to travel. It is so fun waking up in one city and going to sleep in another on the same day. It is also my way of collecting moments, not things, and embracing the incredible diversity that makes our world so beautifully complex. It's a journey that continually fuels my passion for life.”
Erin’s Angels of CNY
219 County Route 57
Phoenix, NY 13135