Howard Koepka’s calling was to connect and mobilize people and organizations to serve. He did everything from organizing community service days in greater Atlanta to building a school, church and orphanage in Haiti to leading disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
Fortunately for Cobb County, Howard joined Noonday Association of Churches and in late March of 2020, with Noonday’s blessing, he agreed to help Cobb Community Foundation with coordinated communication efforts during the pandemic. Howard hosted weekly calls open to all nonprofit, government and faith-based organizations that were distributing food in Cobb County. He would ask each one how “we” could help, making it clear that the organizations participating were a collective “we.” Resources were shared, but more importantly, relationships were created and deepened.
Howard served as the onsite coordinator for the Cobb Community Food Fleet, an initiative that brought together 90 nonprofit, for profit, faith-based and government organizations for nearly 16 months. Under his leadership, 168,000 of boxes of fresh produce, dairy and protein were distributed throughout the county as a result of all 90 partners working together to ensure that food was received, safely stored and efficiently distributed.
Howard also saw it as his role to champion not what he was doing, but what the collective “we” were doing throughout social media, making the general community more aware of not only the needs, but also bringing attention to the organizations who were serving those needs. His posts are still available for all to see on Facebook by searching for #cobbcommunityfoodfleet.
In December of 2020, Howard was presented with Cobb Community Foundation’s James L. Rhoden, Jr. Award for Visionary Philanthropy. Characteristically, he said “I will accept this, but I’m going to accept it on behalf of hundreds of people who have worked tirelessly this entire year to make it happen.” It was never about him or even his organization. It was about the collective “we.”
We lost Howard on October 11, 2021. In his honor, Cobb Community Foundation has created the Howard Koepka Spirit of Collaboration Award that will recognize a nonprofit serving Cobb that has demonstrated the collaborative spirit Howard embodied.