ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Have you ever found a solution to a problem and the first thing you want to do is share it with others?
That’s what motivated this week’s Getting Results Award winner to start her own nonprofit.
Shereece Mitchell changed her life through fitness and now she wants to help others do the same. Three years ago Mitchell felt unhealthy and out of shape. The software engineer had a job that kept her at a desk and in front of a computer for hours. Allergies prevented her from most outdoor activities.
Her life changed when she started an exercise challenge. She lost 100 pounds and eventually took up bodybuilding as a hobby.
“I changed my eating, I changed my lifestyle and I saw the difference,” Mitchell said.
That’s when she decided to help others improve their life as well. Mitchell started the nonprofit, Butterfly Lifestyle, to help others enhance their mind, body and soul.
“I remember growing up I didn’t think I had a passion,” Mitchell said. “I found my purpose once I lost my weight and I went on this journey.”
Mitchell offered lifestyle coaching, nutrition counseling, health screenings and individual and group workout sessions.
“I want everyone to be healthy and live their best life. To tackle the world,” Mitchell said.
But when the pandemic started most of that had to stop. That’s when her efforts shifted to a drive-up food pantry in Pine Hills. Every week she serves hundreds at the New Life Church Of Orlando on Powers Drive.
“Being food insecure affects someone’s mental health, physical health and spiritual health. It’s hard to tell someone to live a healthier life if they are unable to afford food to eat,” Mitchell said. “If you’re food insecure it’s going to take a toll on your mental health as well.”
Bertha Thomas and her husband Cuthbert are regulars. The couple said they look forward to stopping by on Fridays.
“She’s my angel,” Bertha Thomas said. “She has a caring heart.”
The couple said they even pass along some of the food to their daughter who can’t make it.
Mitchell and a handful of volunteers sort meat, vegetables, fruits and an assortment of bread and pastries into bags that can be easily handed out. Most of the food comes from local grocery stores, restaurants and convivence stores.
Mitchell spends the week traveling Central Florida to pick up the businesses’ surplus. She packs as much as she can into her Toyota Corolla.
“The funny thing is everyone tries to figure out how I fit so much in the Corolla. And I say ‘I played a lot of Tetris when I was growing up so that’s my mindset,’” she said laughing. “I say ‘OK, if I turn one here and tweak it here I can make it fit.’ People are amazed what comes out of this small car.”
Mitchell admits that not all the offerings are healthy but she says the most important thing is providing what she can to families that need it.
“Right now I’m limited in what I can provide,” Mitchell said. " I want to be able to provide healthier options.”
“It’s just a joy knowing that I’m able to help.”
Mitchell is organizing the Hunger Warriors 5K & Family Fun Fest on Saturday, Oct. 30. The event will take place at 3311 N. Powers Drive. Orlando, FL 32818.
Proceeds will help keep the pantry stocked with food.
Mitchell hopes to one day open a food pantry in a permanent location. One that focuses exclusively on healthy options.
“Our mission is to empower, inspire, encourage and help everyone on this journey,” Mitchell said. “A healthier life means a longer life and a happier life. That’s the end goal is to have healthier food for everyone.”
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