I read about Chip Paillex on Takepart this morning. It brought tears of
happiness to my eyes. Here is a man who I believe is walking in the footsteps of St.
Francis. And for that matter--in the present day footsteps of Pope Francis as well.
Both men cared about the hungry poor and this man evidently does too.
Do we have any people in Congress of this ilk? We do, but my belief is
that there are so few of them--whereas the self-serving can be found in greater
numbers. I am really not capable of producing hard facts in this regard, but I have
read that many of our congress people are millionaires. Where's the money coming
from? Your guess is as good as mine, but I believe it is from special interests
and big corporations. Am I wrong?
In Chip Paillex is a man that many of us could learn from. A former
marketing manager, he and his daughter started out with a small garden they planted together. He found this work rewarding and expanded his garden to where he was putting in 80 punishing hour-weeks between his job and his garden, but that would change when he was laid off from his marketing job.
Now he could devote full time to farming and in the course of time, he has
become head of America's Grow-a-Row whose mission is simple -- grow food
for those in need. And how does this farmer spend his days now that he heads
an organization? Does he relax in a hammock all day just watching his crops
grow? Hardly, ask any farmer and they will tell you that the work days are long
And sometimes the unexpected happens. One day after a huge
thunderstorm, Paillex came out to find half of his garden of corn lying down. What would
the faint of heart do? Probably just throw up their hands and say this is it.
I need to do something else. Not Paillex. He went out into his field and with a hand
trowel he repacked every single stalk. From this experience he learned a greater
respect for those farmers who had acres of corn and had this happen to them.
One of the reasons for developing this passion to grow food for the hungry
happened when he visited a food pantry where he was surprised to find that there was
no produce. He had read somewhere that the pantry would accept produce
donations, so he dropped some of his produce there. A woman came running after him and
said --"Please promise me you will come back. I need this produce. I can't keep
eating this canned and processed food."
Paillex's operation is expanding and he was in the process of buying
another farm. The community also is interested in volunteering and as of now there are 4,000
volunteers. Some help pick the food. Some go out into the community and ask people
what they should grow. And others help educate kids about where their food comes
Of these volunteers, Paillex said that they have the satisfaction of
helping others. They also get insight into and understand the needs of folks whom they might have
earlier dismissed as problem people. Yes, he is sounding more and more like Pope
Francis to me.