Troy Rogers, the City of Chattanooga’s public service coordinator, and Michael Mathis, Chattanooga market executive for Regions Bank, came together to transform their community for the better. They became acquainted through their mutual support for United Way of Greater Chattanooga—friendship deepening due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, and the mounting racial unrest in America.
“I received an email from Troy out of the blue in May right after George Floyd’s death,” recalls Mathis. “He wrote, ‘I’m feeding the community and wanted to know if you wanted to go with me.’” Mathis and his family joined Rogers’ efforts, making hundreds of sack lunches themselves—and enlisting the help of the community at large, as well as Regions’ commercial banking team.
Together, they have surpassed 20,000 lunches delivered and counting—but that is not the only positive change to come from this endeavor. While making those deliveries, Rogers and Mathis had deep conversations about family, service and race. “Troy has opened my heart to more listening,” said Mathis. “He’s opened my heart to better understanding people’s differences. I wasn’t equipped before; I didn’t have the capacity to understand.”
While the deliveries have been taking place for just a few months, the lessons Rogers and Mathis have learned from them – and each other – will last far longer.