Living Wegmans Values Through Volunteering

Dereck Butler, dairy manager at Tysons Corner

When Dereck Butler walked into the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Wegmans in 2009 looking for work, he knew immediately that Wegmans was the place for him. It was beautiful, clean, and inviting, but even more importantly, Wegmans values of respect, empowerment, and caring about others, reflected his own values.

Dereck began his career at Wegmans working in frozen foods at the Potomac, Virginia, store. He held various positions in Potomac before becoming the dairy department manager at our Tysons Corner store a little over four years ago. Once arriving at Tysons Corner, a single invitation to hand out food to the homeless changed everything for him.

Captivated by Dereck’s story, we sat down with him to learn more.

Beyond the Aisle

Going “beyond the aisle” allows us to dig deeper into stories that highlight our people, our products, and our community in a whole new way. 

Listen to the conversation Senior Public Relations Coordinator Mandee Puleo had with Dereck about his volunteer work. 

Tell me about this life-changing invitation you received.

Dereck: My employee advocate, Kenneth McClary, invited me to go to DC. with him on a Thursday night to hand out food to the homeless. I just went once and that was it – I couldn’t stop. I just knew I had to keep going back as much as I could. I’ve done it consistently every Thursday for the last four years now. I invite anyone I can to come along. It just really makes me feel good that I can make a difference for someone else.

How have your outreach efforts changed over the years?

Dereck: Once we built relationships down there, they started asking for specific things – coats for the winter, socks, tents, lights, personal items, really anything they tell us they need for the next week.

You’ve obviously made an impact on the people you’re serving, but can you share how they have impacted you?

Dereck: I lost both my grandmother and grandfather in a two-week span. Wegmans allowed me to go home to be with family for two weeks, so I didn’t go to D.C. When I got back, I had other volunteers telling me how much the people missed me and asking about me. The next time I went, they were all hugging me, telling me they missed me and were sorry for my loss. They showed that they cared about me too. It makes me see life from a whole different perspective. It really touched me. I’ll never forget that.

If someone wanted to get involved in volunteering or just wanted to make a change in their community for the better, where would you recommend they start?

Dereck: One thing we do at Wegmans is we really look out for one another; we really do help each other. If you can do something to try to help others, it doesn’t have to be a major contribution, it could be the smallest thing – just saying, ‘Hello. How are you?’ Just acknowledging people, treating everyone equally, it’s the small things that really do matter. I always say, just start with that. You can brighten so many people’s days, from our customers to the people you see walking down the street, just by smiling and saying hello.

How do Wegmans’ values support your volunteer work, as well as your work with our customers?

Dereck: The core values of Wegmans are really something that I fell in love with when I first started working here because the core values of who we are, are who I am. Making a difference, high standards, respect, listening, and caring for others just means so much to me. To listen to people and show that you respect them and see Wegmans making a difference in the community by what we are doing at the store level. It resonated with me; just the heart of Wegmans and what Wegmans really stands for. It empowered me in a way, just to do something more, like it was a calling.

I have learned so much about how we treat each other, respect each other, and care for each other. I developed that skill set of showing that I care for others, that I respect others, that I will listen to others. I listen intently. I care deeply. I had these values inside me, and Wegmans helped bring them out. I learned how to show we care, how to show respect to others. I love our values. I see them. I live them every day. We all do.

We are so grateful for employees like Dereck who are committed to giving to our communities and making a lasting, meaningful impact where it is needed the most. Dereck is just one of thousands of examples of how we live our values every day in every community we serve.