With less than a month to go before the deadline to apply for the Gina Gentleman Scholarship, which recognizes the volunteer efforts of Sodexo employees or their immediate family members, Stop Hunger wanted to discuss his experience with Luca Parnas-Zver, a former recipient of the scholarship who was generous enough to share his story with us.
Luca Parnas-Zver is the son of Silvana Parnas who works as a manager and Sodexo unit chef at Selwyn House School in Montreal. Luca is currently studying Arts, Literature and Communications at Dawson College. Several years ago, his youngest sister was diagnosed with cancer, a difficult ordeal that led his family to become involved with Leucan. In the last 10 years, Luca has raised over $1,500 by participating twice in the Shaved Head Challenge. He and his family have received a lot of help and support from those around them through this ordeal which has really inspired Luca on the importance of helping others. For the past three years, he has also been involved with Chez Doris, a women shelter, making food deliveries with his mother twice a week.
5 questions for Luca
1 - Through all these experiences, what skills have you been able to develop and what have you learned from them?
These experiences led me to understand why it was important to give back and to see the urgency of helping, since the inequalities are growing. Volunteering has also allowed me to develop better time management between my school, my work, my music, and my participation in the community.
2 - What made you want to volunteer in your community in the first place?
If I'm completely honest, it's something my parents kind of pushed me to do at a young age. However, I soon learned that helping others give us a greater meaning to our lives and it opened my eyes for sure.
3 - As a recipient of the Gina Gentleman Scholarship, you have decided to make your donation to the Chez Doris shelter, an organization for which you have been volunteering for several years. What do you find most compelling about the work of this organization and how did it feel to give them your gift?
Having two moms, I know what women have to face in this world, especially those from broken homes or broken spirits. Now, this women shelter, Chez Doris, they do so much for women. They offer women in need a safe space, warmth food and they listen to them. Just thinking about it still makes me so grateful that I had the chance to help them. It felt so amazing to be able to give back to such a great cause.
4 – Why is the fight against hunger an important cause to you?
One of my mothers, in her earlier years, has faced hunger. She came from a broken home and had five other siblings which whom she had to share the little food they had, and this really broke my heart. That's why it's important for me to help an organization like Chez Doris or any other organization working in food security.
5 – Why would you encourage Sodexo employees to apply for the Gina Gentleman Scholarship?
It definitely helps! Having this grant allows you to put all your efforts into your studies. For me, it reduced my stress and allowed me to work a little less. In the end, I think it will have a nice impact on my studies. I'm happy to have received this scholarship and to have the chance to invest in my future.
It is still possible for all Sodexo employees and their family members to apply to the Gina Gentleman Scholarship until June 1, 2022. Recipients will receive a $2,500 scholarship in tuition and related expenses at a recognized post-secondary educational institution. In addition, the Stop Hunger Foundation will donate up to $1,000 to a local charity of the recipient's choice.
The scholarships honor the memory of Gina Gentleman, a Sodexo employee with 41 years of service who volunteered and inspired others to feed children in need.
For more information, visit the official Gina Gentleman Scholarships page.