Holding the big check printed with six figures, Louis Guiden Jr. was at a loss for words.
Out of 1,600 applications, Good Shepherd Youth Outreach of Federal Way is the West Region winner for Chick-fil-A’s True Inspiration award.
The regional top prize of $150,000 was presented to Executive Director Louis Guiden Jr. during the organization’s weekly drive-thru style food distribution program.
“This just shows me today that hard work pays off,” 47-year-old Guiden said. “All the youth out here, staff, the community, they keep me inspired to keep doing this.”
Feeding Our Community launched in April 2020 and serves over 120 families a week.
On Jan. 11, Chick-fil-A announced the nonprofit recipients of this year’s True Inspiration Awards grant recipients — a total of $5 million to nonprofits across the nation. Overall, 34 organizations either Black-led or serving communities of color were awarded for their work addressing key issues in their respective areas.
Just a few hours before learning his organization was a grant winner, Guiden said he woke up overwhelmed, tired and looking for hope.
The surprise presentation of the grant proved, “I have to keep pushing, keep believing, keep trusting and keep having my faith,” he said. Guiden added he is thankful for God, his family members, his wife, his mentors and the many hands which keep Good Shepherd Youth Outreach in motion.
The grant funds will help the organization get a warehouse to store food to be delivered to the community, purchase a delivery truck and help the program’s food insecurity logistics, he said.
“We can continue to serve our community,” he said. The nonprofit has plans to make their warehouse into a workforce development model, providing youth in the Federal Way community with opportunities to learn job skills such as inventory, accounting, customer service and more.
“Realizing that selling a chicken sandwich creates this type of opportunity is amazing,” said Ryan Powell, owner of the Federal Way Chick-fil-A. “The seeds you plant continue to grow … Food is the way to the soul and this is how you do it.”
This is the first True Inspiration Award grant awarded to a Federal Way organization. Nearly 500,000 people voted through the Chick-fil-A app to help select the regional grant recipients for the 2022 True Inspiration Awards, according to the company.