The old adage, “the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach,” recently took on new meaning for Ryall Carroll, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Moved by the plight of health-care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 health crisis in his Upper West Side of Manhattan neighborhood, Dr. Carroll and some friends retooled a previously established nonprofit organization over a single weekend to create the effort meals4heroes.org. It has a dual mission: to keep health-care workers well fed and to support local restaurants in New York City. Dr. Carroll led the efforts to design a website to market and promote the charitable effort while a friend, Anna Azvolinsky, coordinates with the hospitals and restaurants.
The initiative meals4heroes.org collects donations and coordinates the delivery of meals from local restaurants to medical professionals in New York City hospitals as they tirelessly work long shifts in the fight against COVID-19. Funds are used to purchase individual meals for all of the health-care workers on a shift, typically between 30 to 200 people. The nonprofit organization is 100 percent volunteer based; since early April they have coordinated the purchase and delivery of nearly 6,000 meals at 11 local hospitals.
“This is truly a labor of love,” said Dr. Carroll, who was initially joined by his wife, a business partner, and friends. Since that time, the effort has grown to include a staff of 11 volunteers.
In 2017, Dr. Carroll and Joel Weingarten created a nonprofit called doing4others.org. The longtime friends and business partners are also cofounders of crscore.com, a college readiness counselor in your pocket app. Like the enduring Vincentian question, “What must be done?” the doing4others nonprofit seeks to answer the question regularly posed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “What are you doing for others?”
“Having already gone through the process of registering as a 501(c)(3) made the creation of this new initiative much easier,” explained Dr. Carroll.
Living the Catholic and Vincentian mission of St. John’s is an important part of Dr. Carroll’s identity, and it was something he confesses that he learned on the job. “Before I came to St. John’s, all I knew was that it had a great basketball program,” he recalled. “Now I know so much more and have personally experienced its transformative Vincentian mission.”
When he is not teaching a full schedule of undergraduate and graduate courses, Dr. Carroll is involved with the Vincentian Center for Church and Society. He also regularly incorporates Academic Service-Learning in his courses and helps in student recruitment efforts. The former Chair of the Department of Marketing, he took a sabbatical to devote his full-time energy and efforts to his nonprofit.
Rev. Patrick J. Griffin, C.M., Executive Director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society, describes his firsthand experience working with Dr. Carroll that attests to his spirit of service: “In January of 2018, Ryall volunteered to join a team of St. John’s scholars on a trip to Nairobi to offer a church management program for the leadership of parishes in Kenya. I found his generous and affable spirit, joined to his experience and teaching skills, made him a welcome guide for those who sought to understand better how to lead a parish community. As a colleague and an instructor, Ryall demonstrated well what lies at the heart of the Vincentian mission of St. John’s University.”
Dr. Carroll, a native New Yorker and a former student-athlete who played football as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, teaches the power of teamwork both inside and outside of the classroom. “The best part about meals4heroes is that our growing teams of donors and volunteers help teams of health-care and restaurant workers right here in New York City.” He added, “Everyone has a role to play, and we all just do our part.”
To learn more or to make a donation, please visit www.meals4heroes.org.