After witnessing a very powerful moment earlier this week, January 29th is now an important day for me for two reasons.
First and foremost, this year I got to spend most of the day in the beautiful town of Pinckneyville, Illinois with two wonderful people – George and Betty Culley who run Least of the Brethren Food Pantry. The St Louis Area Foodbank loaded up one of our semis and drove nearly 100 miles with thousands of pounds of food – milk, chickens, fruits, veggies and cheese – to support our wonderful neighbors in Pinckneyville. It was special because of the people in this southern Illinois town and their ability to love, support and put the needs of others ahead of their own. I witnessed smiles, hugs, laughter and tears – as 40 men and women from the community “answered the call” and came out (despite the frigid cold!) to our first-ever January Food Fair. They were willing to put the needs of their community ahead of their own personal comfort to ensure that people would have plenty of healthy, nutritious food in their kitchens during this blistering cold week.
It was also important because one year ago, on January 29th, I received a call that would change my life – the call offering me the opportunity to join the amazing
team at the St Louis Area Foodbank. Although I wouldn’t officially begin until February 26, 2018, answering that call would provide me with the incredible and humbling opportunity to join an incredible team of men and women that truly embody the idea of “servant leadership.” The 56 people that make up the staff of the Foodbank work tirelessly to serve and strengthen our community by providing food and hope to men, women, children, seniors and veterans across 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois. This amazing team inspires me daily and I am so proud to call the St Louis Area Foodbank team members my family.
Almost a year later, I cannot imagine what my life would look like had I not “answered the call” that day. I have learned so much and we are on this exciting new journey as a Foodbank team. I am grateful to every one of them, to our Board of Directors, and to the countless companies and foundations that support our work and empower us to be better today than we were yesterday. I am also grateful to all the individuals in towns across the bi-state region that give of themselves to better their communities.
I was truly humbled by the men and women I met in Pinckneyville. You see, what I didn’t know until moments before we “opened” the Food Fair is that most of the volunteers helping hand out food were also recipients of the food we brought to Least of the Brethren Food Pantry.
There are no words to truly capture and describe the love, compassion, and “service before self” mentality that was demonstrated today in a small town 100 miles outside of St. Louis. All I can say is THANK YOU. Thank you to George and Betty for allowing us to hold our first ever January Food Fair in your beautiful community. THANK YOU to all the volunteers that came out today to serve and support your neighbors in need. And THANK YOU to all my colleagues – my family at the St Louis Area Foodbank. I will forever be grateful to you for taking a chance on me by placing that call last January. I encourage everyone who hears the call to serve to take a chance on answering that call. For even if you think you are answering a call that will change the lives of others – it might just be the call that changes your life as well.
President and CEO
St Louis Area Foodbank