It seems to me that when I am in a “Tommy Funk” someone with a completely different viewpoint comes in to inevitably offer some clarity. Always on the go, and the parking lot still burning in my mind, I pull up to a gig. This gig happens to be a chef donation redemption for Rotary, welcoming me into his home, Ed Bujdos. Ed I hit it off right away. He’s that guy you immediately want to have a beer with because of this goofy sincerity about him! (I know, Pot, Kettle, BLACK!) While I am in his kitchen way before guest arrival we talk in depth about my concern for the future of Grand Rapids and how our teens have no access to some basic kitchen skills or Kitchen Sage.
What a gig! After cementing some new friendships, Ed assures me that he would be more than happy to play a mentorship role on this vision of mine. So what does he do next? Ed sets up a time to meet with Stacie Behler (PR with MY Meijer!), just to pick her brain. Originally I wanted to have my FWM(friends with money$) buy out the neglected store in my hood. Here I would build a market that would host kids after school where they could learn kitchen skills by prepping all sort of fresh stuff for the market. In turn the program would be sustained through deliciousness! We need a real market!! This could be an answer to both issues. Ed even came up with the name..GR eats Market(Greats Market!), pretty cool huh?
You know the saying “behind every great man, there’s a great woman”, well Stacie owned that statement for two meaningful guys that afternoon! Her advice hit with such depth and clarity that not only left Ed and I dumbfounded, but inspired me to drive this vision further AND along another path. Stick with what I know, kitchen, people, marketing. There was no need for a store front for Kitchen Sage, sustainability could rely on my relationships. And the last thing I needed was more retail!
Then the two arrange for me to speak in front of Rotary, what a complete honor! I even promised Stacie no “F” bombs! I was ready to share my vision in front of THE visionaries. I was “confident nervous” and then George Aquino introduces me. I will NEVER forget Aquino’s words. Having George Aquino introduce me in front of Rotary was like having Michael Buble open for your niece’s 4th grade musical! Before my 40th birthday, I was the funny chef donating to every cause. Now with Stacie, Ed, and George in my corner I was on my way to being the philanthropist I was meant to be.
After my speech, I felt like I was a bride in a reception line! All of Rotary engaged me for over an hour. (not one Rotarian discussed my chef coat though!) Then I happen to meet Ed DeVries. Ed tells me that he has some property he is working on in my neighborhood with Boys and Girls Club! Now here’s an opportunity! I think Rick Huisman is going to be the new executive director, got to call him now……….