Darlington, S.C. native Dawn Pugh is a local realtor and certified luxury home marketing specialist. After finding her niche in newly-renovated and constructed residential properties, Pugh established the Dawn Pugh Team real-estate brand by joining Victoria Green and Joe O’Meara.

“I’ve worked with Dawn for over four years now and I can honestly say there is never a dull moment,” said Green.

Prior to her real estate career, Pugh worked in the service industry while being a full-time student at Winthrop University where she earned a B.A. in political science with a minor in African-American studies.

When she is not being a real-estate mogul, Pugh is spending time with her wife, Julia Pugh, and being a mother to her twins, Finnegan and Aurora. She’s also very active in the community, supporting various organizations throughout the city of Charlotte, such as the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Time Out Youth Center and Autism Speaks, just to name a few.

A project she has been involved with recently is the Lunch Is On Us Initiative, a collaborative community effort aimed at providing sustenance to individuals who are at risk of not having access to proper nourishment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The participating organizations consist of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Hearts Beat as One Foundation and Your Custom Catering and Events.

qnotes was able to speak with a few of the volunteers of these organizations to hear their thoughts on the initiative and what sort of impact it’s made in the community.

Joe Davis, executive director of Hearts Beat as One Foundation, said the number of individuals the initiative is providing for has grown substantially and that he and the other organizations involved appreciate the generosity of the community. “The response to our lunch programs at our distribution locations has been tremendous,” said Davis. “Our volunteers continue to see an increase in the number of families that need assistance, and we could not be more grateful for the financial and volunteer support that the community has shown,” he added.

“We are matching efforts by paying our employees out of our own pockets to make sure they can keep a job while we also help within our community,” Nate Turner, owner and executive chef at Your Customer Catering and Events, said. “We also try to match individuals’ contributions to the cause,” he added.

St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church is one of the distribution sites where those in need are being provided for and said “they’re currently serving around 90 meals a day.”

“We knew that we needed to be a source of comfort, love, relief and strength to our community,” said a St. Luke representative. “We feel like initiative is a huge start to that source,” the representative added.

In addition to speaking with members of the participating organizations of the initiative, qnotes also spoke with Kelly Jackson, a local member of the community who expressed her gratitude for what the initiative is providing for her and her family.

“If it wasn’t for the Lunch Is On Us initiative, my family and I wouldn’t be able to eat a meal for lunch,” said Jackson. “Because of the generosity of the different organizations and the volunteers me and my family have been able to have a hot meal everyday,” she added.

To support the Lunch Is On Us initiative, one can make a financial contribution or donate items such as Styrofoam containers, gloves and basic items that will allow them to continue to prepare to-go style meals. For more information about Lunch Is On Us and how to get involved, visit bit.ly/2xpwNsW.

So, what more can qnotes readers learn about Pugh? To find out the Q&A follows here.

How did you first get involved with volunteer work?

I think that I have always been a “helper” in some capacity, but my first official volunteer effort was raising funds and awareness for the LGBT Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Since then, I have volunteered for numerous organizations ranging from Humane Societies to political campaigns. The majority of my volunteer work has focused on LGBTQ initiatives.

In what ways has your volunteer work impacted your life?

Volunteer work has impacted and shaped my life in ways that I can’t describe. I wouldn’t be Dawn Pugh without the people and experiences that volunteer work has presented to me. Aside from my family, every person that I value, I have met through some type of non-profit work. I am so fortunate to know so many people that want to have a positive impact on this world!

Can you describe some of your thoughts and feelings about the positive impact the Lunch Is On Us initiative has had on the community?

I think that most of the members of our community know this about me, but I grew up well below the poverty line in South Carolina. Had it not been for meals provided by my school, and the kindness and generosity of others, there would have been many days that my siblings and I would not have had food in our tummies. Writing this, I remembered that there was one Christmas that we actually didn’t have dinner. No child should experience that. The children in our community are the future leaders of our community. They need nourishment in order to learn and grow. It is that simple.

What personal insight can you offer individuals wanting to get involved in volunteer work?

You will always, in some way, benefit more from your service than the person or organization that you are helping. Even if the work you are doing is emotionally draining, uncomfortable financially or physically challenging. Every. Single. Time.

Aside from the Lunch Is On Us initiative, what volunteer programs or organizations are you involved with?

Currently, I am on the board of Queen City Prism and serve as their community relations manager. Also, I do quite a bit of unofficial work with the Human Rights Campaign, specifically around their annual dinner. Since becoming a mother of special needs twins, a lot of my volunteer work is through sponsorships, fundraising and “butts in seats” efforts.

What sort of things do you and your family enjoy doing for fun?

There isn’t a lot of free time in the Pugh household! Both my wife and I work full-time, she works for Bank of America. Also, both of our twins have Autism and receive about 30 hours of therapy a week. They basically have full-time jobs! When we do have downtime, we like to ride in the car with the windows down and listen to music very loudly. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but the kids love it!

What are some of your favorite pastimes or hobbies?

I am embarrassed to admit it, but organizing may be my number one hobby. Specifically, organizing my refrigerator. It’s a sad truth. I love outdoor concerts in the summer and wine with friends. I love to garden, but I am not very good at it!

What’s your all-time favorite movie or book?

“Gone with the Wind” is both my favorite book and movie.

How do you juggle your professional and volunteer work with being a wife and mom?

Not very well some days. Each of these is very important to me, so I try to make sure that I have dedicated time to each and that I don’t try to tackle everything at once. Multi-tasking is not one of my strengths. It took me a long time to be okay with allowing my children to play on their iPads while I answered an email. They may or may not have them right now.

What’s your favorite color or combination of colors?

Blush, Black, White, Grey.

What are some of your passions or special interests?

My number one passion is being an advocate for those that are vulnerable in the community. Including the disabled, poor and people of color.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would want the ability to read minds. My son is non-verbal and my daughter doesn’t have much functional language. Their lives would be much easier if I knew what they were thinking. To be clear, I would only want to use this superpower on them. What other people think about is none of my concern until they share it with me.