Corey Easterday did not always grow up having everything at his disposal. In fact, his reality was the opposite. Born and raised in northeast Ohio, he wouldn’t describe himself as growing up poor, but it did not take away from the fact that his family faced financial hardships throughout his life.
“My family grew up in a poverty situation for a lot of my formative years, and it was very situational. It came from circumstances where my family was experiencing some struggles, especially since my mom, at one point, was a single parent raising me and my sister.”
And thus, his interest and love for the work of nonprofits steamed and grew when he came across many local community organizations in college that were helping out families similar to his. One, in particular, caught his attention: Current Initiatives. Current Initiatives is an organization based in Florida where one of their main initiatives is called The Laundry Project and one that resonated personally with Corey. The Laundry Project is a laundry day where Current Initiatives provides all the quarters and soap needed so that families could come and do their laundry.
“One of the best ways to help people is to find something very tangible and practical and meet that need,” said Corey, as he reminisced about going to the laundromat with his mom when he was young – both how expensive it was and how much it meant to have the dignity of wearing clean clothes.
Starting New – The Queen City
Corey continued working with Current Initiatives until he moved to Charlotte, NC, and transitioned from being the Ohio Division Director to National Director for the organization.
In this new city, he quickly found himself completely unplugged from the social good community. He had an ache to connect with people, especially other nonprofits, but as the pandemic of 2020 unraveled, it had become harder than ever. One day, he put out a call on Twitter to get recommendations on nonprofits in the Charlotte area that were doing impactful work and Carolina Farm Trust (CFT) was one of them.
“What I see from CFT is a real commitment to building sustainable food systems that have a real tangible impact on folks who are living in local [disadvantaged] neighborhoods. It’s having access, it’s about building equity, empowering families, and building sustainability… It’s trying to change the system from the ground up.”
Furthermore, Corey describes his need to stay plugged in and support local organizations due to having his personal story, being involved in community work throughout the years, and coming in contact with so many other organizations that are doing very tangible work to change systemic problems.
“Growing up, I took for granted what I was consuming and what I had access to. There is so much about it that I didn’t think about or understand. I see that a lot with people,” he says. “We just go day to day eating and doing whatever and we don’t think about where our food comes from… or the access that other people might or might not have. We just assume that everyone has the same access to everything. And it’s just not the case.”
Empowering through giving
For Corey, dignity and empowerment are two of his top values when it comes to giving. He believes that having food on the table, and most importantly healthy and nutritious food, gives people the fuel to face life’s challenges while also nourishing life’s joys. It is one of the elemental pieces to live a wholehearted life.
“We have to have the understanding that food is a very empowering thing, and it goes a long way… When you have the right food, right resources, and right access, it powers you throughout your day, it helps you be a healthier person. When you have the right fuel and energy, it helps you give more.”
Written by: Daniella Cardenas