Deborah Mitchell, Giant shop steward and volunteer activist. Photo by Bill Burke.

One of Local 400’s most inspiring volunteer activists, Deborah Mitchell will retire at the end of December after 40 years of service in the retail food industry.

A longtime Giant steward, Mitchell worked closely with friend and fellow Local 400 member Ava Haman lead fundraising efforts for Faces of Our Children, a non-profit charity that raises awareness about Sickle Cell disease and leads the battle to prevent it. Among many activities, they organized fundraisers such as Thanksgiving dinners for members, ran a Christmas toy and coat drive, held Black History month events, and even put on a car show to benefit Faces of Our Children.

Mitchell participated in the One Nation Working Together Rally in DC on Oct. 2, 2010. Dozens of Local 400 members along with 400 other groups rallied for jobs, equal justice, peace and public education for all. Photo by Karlyn Williams.

Mitchell also worked to educate members about how to empower themselves to improve their lives.

“Education is your best tool,” said Mitchell. “With FELRA 2012 coming up we have to stick together as a whole because if we try to stand to Giant as individuals, they’ll just eat us up. It’s important to take the time to know your contract and know your rights because after all, knowledge is power.”

Mitchell started her career at A&P in Virginia, and then worked for Safeway in the Richmond. Twenty years ago, she and her husband moved to Washington, DC, where Giant hired her.

Deborah Mitchell and Giant shop steward Maggie Sharps (center) put on a fundraiser for Faces of Our Children to raise awareness for Sickle Cell Disease.

Mitchell plans on starting her retired life by moving to her home in Danville, Va., where she plans continue to stay active and involved with Local 400’s Minority Coalition and their efforts supporting Faces of Our Children. She also hopes to travel with her husband more while he’s away on business trips.