‘Hidden Hero’ Xenia McFarling Helps Broward’s Homeless, Hungry Overcome The Pandemic

January 27, 2021

The Community Foundation of Broward is proud to honor 12 representatives of dedicated nonprofits who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Our new Hidden Heroes Awards shine a light on 12 outstanding examples of bold impact by individuals who make life better in our community.

Xenia McFarling is one of the real-life superheroes who are stepping up to help in Broward, just when our community needs them the most.

Community Foundation of Broward Hidden Heroes Award Winner Xenia McFarling of LifeNet4Families.

Xenia’s heroic efforts include helping LifeNet4Families serve 250 meals a day and provide showers, clothing and other essentials for those in need during the coronavirus crisis.

When the pandemic hit, LifeNet4Families temporarily lost the 20 volunteers they usually rely on each day to help carry out its mission of lifting up the homeless and other struggling residents. But thanks to Xenia springing into action, LifeNet4Families’ lifesaving work continued and grew – just when Broward needed it the most.

As Vice President of Operations, Xenia has coordinated and redeployed LifeNet4Families’ professional staff to keep its vital community services running during the crisis. And Xenia takes turns filling for every job that needs to get done. Throughout the pandemic, Xenia has stepped up to:

  • distribute clothes
  • prepare hot meals
  • stock shelves in the food pantry
  • run the mail room (provided for homeless residents who need a mailing address)
  • assist case managers as they link clients to needed services
  • answer the phones
  • work the front desk
  • act as a translator
  • and much, much more!

In addition, Xenia has researched CDC guidelines to craft safety procedures that enable LifeNet4Families to keep operating, without spreading the coronavirus. That includes shifting more services outdoors and setting up outdoor handwashing stations.

With Xenia’s hard work, LifeNet4Families' food pantry distribution has increased as much as 90 percent and meal distribution has gone up nearly 40 percent to meet growing needs during the pandemic.

“She does an amazing job every day, but during the pandemic she really stands out,” LifeNet4Families President & CEO Melanie Geddes said. “Each area she serves in, she has a can-do attitude and does not accept failure as an option. It inspires others to do the same.

The Community Foundation’s Prize patrol surprised Xenia with a cape and medal in recognition of her heroic community service. And like our other Hidden Heroes Award winners, Xenia received a prize package that includes $500, restaurant gift certificates and a two-night staycation at the beautiful Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel.

“Totally surprised. Blown away!” Xenia said moments after receiving her award. “It means a lot to be valued for the work that I do. … We all need to come together as a community to help those who can’t help themselves.”

Xenia is just one example of the many nonprofit hidden heroes all across our community whose hard work helps shape a brighter future for Broward. Thanks to support from philanthropists with charitable Funds at the Community Foundation, these hidden heroes can continue to tackle Broward’s big challenges – during this crisis and beyond.

Click here to see a video of Xenia being surprised with her Hidden Hero Award.

Click here to learn more about the Community Foundation of Broward’s Hidden Heroes Award winners.

Learn More

To learn how the Community Foundation can help you fuel heroic, life-changing philanthropy in Broward, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at nthies@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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