Meet Grace Bishara, the Corporate Engagement and Volunteerism Manager at United Food Bank, a Corporate Sponsorship Program that nourishes Arizona Communities.
As the Corporate Engagement Manager at United Food Bank, Grace helps in bringing funding through sponsorships to help feed families across Arizona. In addition to this, Grace is actively involved in helping coach people suffering from Celiac Disease through fitness, nutrition, and mental health.
Grace had always been surrounded by people whose purpose in life was to help and serve others. Her dad was a pastor, and her mother was an environmentalist who had a passion for giving to their neighbors. Thus, Grace believes that she has always been groomed for her profession to help others selflessly without expecting anything in return.
Growing up, Grace struggled with her health. Constantly sick but always striving to be healthy, she participated in sports like Gymnastics, Cheerleading, and Dance. When she graduated high school, she took up a career as a Hair Stylist and went on for a Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership & Management. While still going to school, she competed in a world bodybuilding championship called “WORLDS with the WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion)” and won 1st place, leveraging this title to begin creating a career in fitness, coaching others through their illnesses. Talking about how her career started in the non-profit sector, Grace recalls, “My first job in nonprofit was at Habitat for Humanity, Central Arizona, where I reorganized their Volunteer Programs and helped fundraise through Corporate Team Building Events. Later, I moved onto United Food Bank where I revamped their Volunteer Program and their Corporate Sponsorships”.
United Food Bank is a corporate sponsorship program that helps feed families in Eastern Arizona across 5 counties including Maricopa, Pinal, Gila, Southern Navajo, and Apache. It pushes out 77 thousand meals daily and has seen a 400% increase in families served through its Food Distribution program during the CoVid- 19 pandemic. To make this wonder happen, Grace and her team had to look for resources to make sure they could meet the demand!
Leading her team, Grace’s main idea is to create fun events that help bring people together for a greater cause. Elaborating on this idea, she says, “My career in non-profit has been a blessing. Here, I was able to build some great relationships and connections through which I was able to create an event called ‘United Fit & Feed Expo’. In this event, we built emergency food bags, raised food drive donations, and funds donations while having minute by minute classes and fitness vendors! I was able to marry my two passions of fitness and helping others through this event. Besides, everyone had an amazing time and presently, we are looking forward to the 2nd event in the series.”
Grace has come across a lot of challenges in realizing her calling. The biggest challenge was the fear of the unknown – would she make enough of an income working for Charities; was she going to enjoy working the job? Leaving her career as a hairstylist of 9 years was a hard decision, and so was building up relationships with her clients. She elaborates, “Networking is everything when it comes to careers and building genuine relationships! I was able to meet the CEO of both of my jobs who told me to apply for open positions and after extensive competitive interviews; I got my first job a day after my graduation!”
Even today, her challenges have not ended. Her present challenges include fighting with her comfort to strive for growth. Grace believes that it is easy to get comfortable when one is happy and things are easy-going; however, change creates new challenges to conquer and provides the growth one needs to continue to succeed! Despite these challenges, Grace’s life is full of passion and joy. She says, “I get to wake up doing things that I love, while also helping people every day. I have created genuine and long-lasting relationships and have become stronger in my calling“.
The response of people she helps in feeding has always been one of gratitude! Grace reveals that when people did not understand her vision, they made her second guess herself. However, staying true to her vision and consistent in her efforts even when she could not see the reward, in the beginning, has helped her reach her goal. She has a message for every woman who wants to make a difference – “Consistency is the key to life. Life will throw you tons of curveballs that try to stop you, especially when you are in a leadership role. Know your truth so that if people try to tear you down, you know your worth. Continue every day in small steps to achieve your goals because small steps are what get you to walk miles without even noticing how far you have come!”