Seeds of Change on the Horizon
I have three children, ages 15, 13, and 10 — which means I’m listening to a lot of Hamilton right now. At the end of the show, Hamilton is reflecting on his life, and Lin Manuel Miranda’s words have been resonating with me: “A legacy is planting seeds in a garden we never get to see.” For the next few months, I will continue to plant seeds in the Second Harvest Heartland garden that I must eventually watch from afar. At the end of 2018, I will be stepping down as CEO of this wonderful organization as my family and I move to Boston, where my wife has accepted a fantastic new job.
As I consider the next phase of my career, those Hamilton words are particularly poignant. I am so proud and excited about the seeds that Second Harvest Heartland is planting right now, and I will surely miss the garden. We are moving into a brand-new facility that will improve the quantity and quality of food that we will be able to deliver. Our volunteer experience will be best-in-class, with more variety of projects that will help educate volunteers about the challenges so many of our neighbors in need face and help them be their best selves as they roll up their sleeves in service to our community. We’re planting seeds in new programming. We are a year into our child hunger initiative, which will turn the tide in addressing the more than 30 million meals kids in our community missed last year. We’re innovating with produce to provide more health benefits to our neighbors struggling to find food.
And I’ll miss our people — staff, board members, the hard-working men and women who lead our partners agencies, volunteers and my peers across the country who run food banks in the fantastic Feeding America network. Every group I just mentioned is planting seeds to make our communities stronger, fairer, and healthier in the future.
But my other great lesson in considering the Hamilton legacy quote is that the seeds we plant in this work aren’t just future based. Every day we are sending out ripples from our good work, and they make a difference. We plant seeds with kids, seniors, working parents, caregivers and more – thousands and thousands every day. We just don’t always get to see the real-time results. We get feedback, like this quote from a donor and a comment card: “Your support helps restore my faith in humanity.” Gratitude to our employees: “Are you the angel who brings me the food?” Gratitude to our donors: “I’ll never know who was responsible for the help I received. Will you please say, ‘thank you’ for me?”
It has been one of my life’s greatest pleasures to be in the garden-building business with this community of caring people. It’s my personal hope that I can find such a meaningful next step in my own career path, though I’m certain the good work of Second Harvest Heartland and its community partners will continue to blossom unabated. We’ve got a few more months together, and I will finish planting the few seeds I have left here. Thank you for the privilege and the support — and I can’t wait to see what this organization and community will do next!