Take a moment and try to imagine what our community would be like if The Hunger Coalition did not exist. If Jeanne Liston had not quit her steady job fifteen years ago to become the founding Executive Director of a totally volunteer-run nonprofit that operated a small food pantry the size of a large coat closet.
The thriving Hunger Coalition of today started with Jeanne and her volunteer Board’s vision that EVERYONE in our community ought to have access to the good food necessary for a good life.
Consider just a few of the remarkable ways that original vision has been realized. Today, participants can select the fresh fruit, vegetable, and dairy products they prefer every week. Every child in the community has access to healthy snacks in their classrooms, public libraries, and other afterschool gathering places and can also take a pack of food home to tide themselves over on weekends. During summer vacations, the Bloom Truck delivers healthy lunches and library books to children throughout the valley. Anyone who wishes can volunteer at Bloom Farm or Hope Garden and go home with a bag of freshly harvested produce. And now, with the opening of the Bloom Community Food Center, people can come together in the commercial kitchen to prepare nutritious meals for community lunches and dinners in the Café.
More than just a source of emergency food, the team’s vision has created a magical place that fosters community where everyone is invited to act in support of our mission. Jeanne deserves our thanks for this.
Of course, as Jeanne insists, none of this would have been possible without the excellent staff and shared leadership structure that has evolved during her tenure. Two of the earliest recruits with over ten years of service each – Associate Director Naomi Spence and Director of Operations Brooke Pace McKenna – have essentially become a governing trio with Jeanne, providing overall direction while encouraging the development of resilient leadership skills in the entire staff. The Board is fully confident that The Hunger Coalition is primed to move to the next level of community impact with Brooke and Naomi as Co-Executive Directors.
Now, Jeanne is “leading by leaving”, inspiring us once again with a demonstration of her outstanding character and selfless judgment. All of us – staff, volunteers, participants, donors, and board – are so grateful that Jeanne dared to become our Founding Executive Director.
Thank you, Jeanne. We wish you Godspeed in whatever worthy endeavor you decide to devote your talents to next.