Back from India and invited to a party—for us! Our FOOD FOR ALL board and staff planned a celebration to give Linda and me a proper send-off. We showed up at the Pomona Valley Mining Company restaurant where we had held a few of our annual meetings over the past decade. We were surprised and delighted that people representing our entire history with FOOD FOR ALL were there for a dinner and time to remember and honor what was accomplished. People who had supported us from the very beginning: Paul and Dorothy Gerrard, our original grocer; board members John and Linda Benner, Lynda Trelut who flew down from Gilroy, Georgianna McBurney, Helen Anderson, Bill Christy. FOOD FOR ALL and VISTA volunteers, former staff members like Sing Baker who drove up from San Diego to join us.
Paul and Dorothy Gerrard, First FOOD FOR ALL grocer
L-R top; L-R bottom: Georgianna, Bill, Helen, Lynda, John
Michael Donkis, our new CEO, was not there, nor were any of our newly acquired FICAH board members. We did not expect them to be. This was obviously a party to bring a proper ending to what FOOD FOR ALL was and not so much a looking forward to what it was to become. It was entirely appropriate and just fine with us. We had always been an organization that celebrated, both the victories and the set-backs. So we enjoyed the chance to say farewell and listen to all the nice things people had to say about us and say, Thank you!”
It was most heartwarming to receive this massive twelve-and-a-half pound album of letters (I weighed it) from the hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country and world, and people who could not be present for the send-off party, but who wrote letters of appreciation.
A wall representing the history of FOOD FOR ALL was put up and our board officers, Georgianna McBurney, Lynda Trelut, Helen Anderson, and John Benner led the whole gathering to reflect together on the achievements of the past decade plus. We built FOOD FOR ALL as a “learning organization” so it was important to be sure people had the chance to say what important lessons could be passed on to those who would carry the banner into the future.
Linda and I left the party without a clue where life would take us next. But we left without any regrets, very few “if onlys and what ifs,” and lots of wonder-filled memories. There are of course memories of the successes, and the more painful ones of the failures. But those that are really important to us are of the “people of FOOD FOR ALL.”
Staff celebrations at the office and Sue Hammond’s home
Our staff, many of whom would carry on for several years after our tenure, especially Jenny Foster, our original office manager, and our dedicated merchandising people, Alma Vierich, Tom Whalen, and Frank Knutson. Michael even re-hired Neill Richards after he had ordered me to let him go, when he discovered that he could not handle the east coast without Neill’s help.
Clockwise: Lance Ternasky, Scott Christiansen, Sing Baker, Jenny Foster & Diane Adams, Theresa Lingafelter
Clockwise: Ed Drummond, Neill Richards, Leslie Temanson, Linda Hamilton; Alma Vierich; Alma & Frank Knutson; Lisa Dewey; Staff Retreat; Neill Richards & Tom Whalen;
Of course, our board members, directors and advisory boards, who guided us with wise counsel and hundreds of hours of service through the years.
FOOD FOR ALL Board Members Attending the Send-Off Party
Funds Distribution Advisory Board Members, including back left Darryl Brock and Mike Hayes (FFA Board Members), Gianna Hochstein, Neill Richards, Aaron Zerah, Jeanine Faria, Georgianna McBurney (FFA Board Member)
John Oyler of ICA gave many hours on our Funds Distribution Board and facilitated our strategic plan for expansion
Two of our founding board members could not be there: Rich Blakley, who got his church behind us early on; and Milo Lacy, retired supermarket manager who always told us the grocers would never adopt our idea.
Rich Blakley at FOOD FOR ALL Opening & Milo Lacy at Trade Show
John Benner will continue on as treasurer of the newly merged organization. Helen Anderson would remain on the board for another three years.
The Store Ambassadors, local FOOD FOR ALL Councils, local grant boards, and promotional supporters who kept our message in front of shoppers.
But most of all, the hundreds of people running creative nonprofits in local communities across the country: food banks and pantries, homeless shelters, community gardens, community supported agriculture programs; and the international NGO agencies working in the most impoverished villages to help local people find their own solutions.
In the last year of our leadership of FOOD FOR ALL we changed the name of the newsletter to Catalyst because we saw the purpose and effect of our grant-making to be catalyzing innovative solutions to the issue of hunger. We left the organization in the hands of those we hoped had caught some of the vision we had of a grassroots and comprehensive approach to this important cause.
History will have to be the judge of how well we had done our work.