June 8 will be my last day as President and CEO of FBR as I officially retire. Time flies when you’re a part of doing good works and I wanted to share a few memories that stand out most for me over my career.
During one of my first FBR experiences, serving dinner at a Kids Cafe, I’ll never forget offering a little boy a second milk and how his eyes lit up. “You mean I can have more than one?” he exclaimed. It reminded me how many things I take for granted and how difficult it must be to live with hunger as a child.
During the Great Recession, I interviewed clients at a food pantry and met a man whose story will forever touch me. He worked for years as an electrician in Idaho Springs and his wife was a cosmetologist. They earned enough to feed their teenagers and even save a little. When the business he worked for closed, the family relocated to Aurora in hopes of a better chance to find work. While they searched for jobs, his wife developed breast cancer. Life became even more difficult as their savings depleted. Without an income, the family faced a dire situation. Tears streamed down his face as he told me, “I thought I did everything right. I never thought we’d be in this situation.” I was struck by how quickly life can change and why it’s so important to help feed struggling families.
Visiting a partner agency in Evergreen, I watched a pantry volunteer offer her client some extra ground beef. He thoughtfully told her, “one pound was plenty “and he wanted to ensure that others coming after him would also be fed. Even in his time of need, he was gracefully thinking of others.
I’d written several thank you notes over the years to a generous donor, Bud Ferdon. Bud wanted to ensure that his legacy lived on with a sizeable bequest to FBR. His kind gesture, and his family’s selfless joy in seeing his gift honored with the naming of the Ferdon Family Fresh Food Center, was incredibly moving.
One of the highlights of my job was getting to know our wonderful volunteers, many of whom will forever be etched in my heart. Chuck came to help after he lost his job and he continued to help after he found work and into retirement. Betty Van Hook volunteered even while battling cancer (twice!) and her memory lives on through all the amazing volunteers given our award in her honor. I’ve been fortunate to receive support, counsel and expertise from our dedicated volunteer board members. I’m in awe of the countless individuals who roll up their sleeves – all of our volunteers are priceless! Because they care, we can do so much more!
Taking the helm, 16 years ago, I never dreamed we’d be able to distribute more than 50 million meals in a year’s time. And now that dream is here. Many hands keep this large wheel turning to feed our community. I’m so proud to have been a spoke in this wheel. No one is irreplaceable and I take great comfort in knowing the wheel will continue to turn after I retire. Dedicated people working together – staff, volunteers, donors, partner agencies – bring hope to hungry men, women and children. Thank you so much for your support!
Warm regards and much gratitude,