Food bank director and husband were honored by the city with a proclamation.
Gloria Max and her husband, Ray, were late getting to work at the Jerry Doliner Food Bank one day recently. They didn’t get there until 6 a.m.
They are still putting in long hours, six days a week, at the facility at 470 Andalusia Ave. in Ormond Beach, even though Gloria Max continues to fight ovarian cancer and has many side effects.
“I’m so glad I have a job,” she said. “If I had to stay home, I’d be a basket case. I get energy from helping people.”
When people think of those who work to benefit the community, the first thought often goes to Max, who was named 2015 Citizen of the Year by Citizens For Ormond Beach, a local nonprofit organization.
On Dec. 4, 2018, the Ormond Beach City Commission issued a proclamation to honor Gloria and Ray Max for their service. The proclamation states in part:
“She is the driving force behind a food bank that helps feed approximately 25,000 people a year, and a backpack and school supply drive that has equipped nearly 109,000 needy children since the mid-1990s. She has helped many others, including raising money to build bomb shelters in poor neighborhoods of Israel, and providing two fire responder trucks there; providing cash assistance to victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael; and organizes an annual holiday turkey drive locally. She works 16-hour days at the food bank with Ray at her side.”
Max, 78, and her assistant are the only paid staffers. Her husband is one of about 40 volunteers.
It was 2015 that Max was diagnosed with cancer, and there was a chance she would only live a year. But treatments were successful, and the cancer went away.
“A lot of people were praying for me,” she said.
“I nominated Gloria and her husband Ray because they have worked so hard to help literally hundreds of thousands of people in our area! When Ray and Gloria see people in need they respond with generosity and love.”
MAYOR BILL PARTINGTON
Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and she was diagnosed again a year ago. She once again had chemo treatments, and a few months ago, the doctor placed her on a pill, which has a co-pay of thousands of dollars.
“It makes you very sick but keeps tumors from growing,” she said. “You lose your memory and you’re in a fog. I have to think, is the quality of life worth it? Is the expense worth it? My husband says yes. So, I’m taking it.”
‘THE ELDERLY ARE REALLY HURTING’
Max is worried about having funds for the Jerry Doliner Food Bank in 2019. In recent years, many people donated for disaster relief. Now, the food bank fund is short.
“If people could donate, we’d appreciate it,” she said.
Max has close-up view of the local economy. Even though things have improved, she said there are still many people who need help, especially those in their 40s and 50s who can’t find a job.
“They are not being hired like the younger generation,” she said. “The elderly are really hurting. They live on Social Security and everything has gone way up. It’s hard for them.”
There are also many people working for minimum wage who struggle to feed their family and work several jobs.
Max also organizes community events, such as the communitywide sabbath set for Jan. 25 at Temple Beth El, 579 N. Nova Road. She said all religions are welcome.
‘IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOT BE AFRAID’
In October, Max organized a service at Temple Beth El after 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October. It was attended by 700 people.
“What was so nice, 60% were not of Jewish faith,” she said. “It was really a magnificent service. It was beautiful to see all those people.”
In the wake of the shooting, she spoke to someone who was afraid of having a service, but she believed it was needed by the community.
“It’s important to not be afraid,” she said.
Max has been receiving help from the community. The Chabad women of the Chabad Lubavitch deliver home-cooked meals to her every Friday.
“These sweet people who have cooked for me for two and half years — these women, with children and lots of things to do, take the time to make food," she said. "They are the most fabulous meals that you’d ever want to see. When you know a delicious meal is coming to you, it just gives you hope.”
For information on receiving food or making a donation, call 386-672-0294 or visit jewishfederationdaytona.org.