HONOURED: June Ross MBE
ONE WOMAN who can say that 2016 has been a good year is June Ross.
Earlier this year, June was featured in the Queen’s 90th birthday Honour’s list and two weeks ago she picked up her MBE for her service to disadvantaged communities through Esther’s Community Enterprise (ECE), the voluntary organisation she founded in 2004 to distribute food to people in need.
June, 51, travelled to Windsor Castle, along with her two children, Levine and Daniel, to receive her award. She recalled:
“When I went to Windsor Castle, there were no words to describe how I felt.
“Meeting the Queen was one thing but it was the realisation that God honoured his word. I said in my heart, ‘God you showed me this’ and to see the things I had to go through for it to manifest, that for me was like the icing on the cake; for me, if nothing else happens in my life I know that I’ve done what God has called me to do.”
During the awards ceremony where June received her MBE, the Queen asked her about ECE and commended the work of the charity.
ECE is now in its 12th year, and was started after June felt God telling her to start a ministry to feed the homeless and families whose financial circumstances prevented them from getting good food. June started the organisation in her home and approached stores to donate their food that was near its sell-by date. Utilising volunteers to collect the food from supermarket stores, it would then be packed into food parcels, and distributed to needy families.
Since that inauspicious start, ECE now has its own base in Croydon and currently oversees 400 plus volunteers whose work helps to feed up to 25,000 people a month in London. The charity’s services have also expanded beyond the capital and it is now also operational in Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Kent.
Amazingly, along with her volunteers, June – the daughter of a pastor who helped to pioneer Pentecostal denomination the Church of God of Prophesy – volunteers her time and expertise to this project and she doesn’t take a salary. Instead, she runs breakfast clubs and relies on God’s provision for her salary.
“It’s the goodwill of the volunteers, having a heart and a passion for the charity that keeps it going,” she said.
“It’s been kept afloat by God’s grace over the past 12 years, but in terms of workers, they are all volunteers, and that really touches my heart.
“People just want to do it. I’ve had volunteers that are still with me from the beginning.”
Next year seems set to be a great year for ECE. There’s a possibility that it may go international after a news story about the voluntary organisation was broadcast on an American Christian channel earlier this year. Since the story was aired, June has received numerous calls from abroad from people keen to set up similar projects. Whatever the outcome of those enquiries, it is June’s
desire that ECE continues to reach people.
“We’ve seen an increase in people, even those that are in full time work, that still can’t make ends meet. So it’s not even about people that are disadvantaged and marginalised.
“My heart is that it continues to do the purpose for which it was called to do, and touch the hearts of people.”
For more info visit Esther Community Enterprises' website.