Volunteer Spotlight: Russell Cavin

Russell Cavin - austin food and wine.jpg

Russell Cavin

Where is your hometown?

San Antonio, TX and I have lived in Austin since 2003.

How do you spend your time outside of volunteering?

I have a real estate brokerage, Uptown Realty. I love spending time with friends, family, my fiancé, and our dog Kevin. I love swimming at Barton Springs, trying new restaurants and bars, going to shows, and traveling around the world. I also really enjoy wakeboarding, mountain biking, and snowboarding.

How long have you been volunteering with KAF and what made you want to get involved?

I believe it was May of 2015 but not 100% sure on that. I had looked all over for a food rescue non-profit in Austin that wasn’t faith based. I never had any luck finding one so along with a few friends we were starting an organization called The Nourishment Project. We ran into a few issues with members being pulled away from the non-profit due to things with their full-time jobs. One day while looking around online I came across KAF’s Facebook page and immediately reached out to Joseph and setup a meeting with Susan and Joseph. I was super excited once I heard about what they were doing. We initially started coming up with ways that The Nourishment Project and KAF could work together. After TNP fell apart, I contacted Susan and told her I wanted to get involved. I’ve been a volunteer since then and still love it just as much!

Do you have any memorable stories from food runs/drop-offs?

Every run is great but one of the best for me personally was when an old friend from high school in San Antonio posted on Facebook that her older brother whom I knew as well was missing and last seen in Austin. In high school he contracted meningitis which caused him to have brain surgery which left him in a position where he needed assistance for the rest of his life. He still had much of his independence but was nonetheless under some sort of loose supervision. As it turned out, he had actually gotten into drugs years after high school as well. This caused a lot of issues within their family as he wanted more freedom. He ended up running away to Austin and had last been seen near the ARCH. I spent the next few weeks going to the ARCH and surrounding areas to canvas with flyers and ask people if they had seen him.

One day, a SWAT call came in and I was directed to go to Outcry in the Barrio. This was my first run I had ever done there. When I arrived I was greeted by many people and one of them happened to be my friends missing brother! I contacted his sister and they were re-united. Part of his disability was that he didn’t have the greatest short term memory so he apparently wanted to go home but didn’t know where to start. He ended up finishing the program at Outcry and was then reunited with his family.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering for KAF?

I just love how easy it is to make a meaningful impact in our society. The number one reason I am involved with Keep Austin Fed is environmental. Food waste is the dumbest problem we have and there’s such an easy solution that we are all part of every time we go on a run. I love that we are doing so much good with just a few minutes out of the day. Best food first is the mantra we live by and knowing that we are not only helping the environment but also feeding people nutritious food is amazing.

Do you have any fun tips for how you personally reduce food waste in your own home?

I wouldn’t say it’s a huge tip but we just do our best to eat everything on our plate. We love leftovers and sharing meals when we go out as well.

Erica Dallas