Tracie Killar, Why I Care Member Recipient

Tracie Killar

Tracie recalls being a seventh grade student when one of her teachers started a Social Action Club. At that point in her life she hadn’t volunteered, but her involvement with the club opened her eyes to what it meant to be a giver, not just a receiver.

Up to that point, Tracie had benefited from several opportunities as a child. She recalls being one of the first "Littles” as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program and how she was able to attend free camps for underprivileged children. But now, as part of the Social Action Club, Tracie was able to volunteer and give back, something she has continued into adulthood spending her whole career working for various non-profits.

In 2015, Tracie founded the South End Children’s Cafe in Albany, a cafe-like setting that provides free meals to children and their families in the evening and during school breaks. Families can sit around a table, discuss the day’s events, and get a healthy, filling meal at South End Children’s Cafe at no cost. Tracie’s vision was inspired by research that shows that children who are food insecure (lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food) have a more difficult time in school and with school interactions. By creating a safe environment where children can come after school to get help with their homework and a hot meal, some of the worry is being taken away for these youngsters.

Although Tracie is an inspiration to others, she says she is inspired by every person who walks into the cafe. From the volunteers to the children and families who come there for support to parents who are homeless or struggling but still want the best for their kids, to the children who are resilient and hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.