Here it is, my last newsletter article as a board member! I sat with what I would say. I contemplated some jokes (Why did the co-op cross the road? Because the member-owners voted for it!… yeah, no.) Were there any big secrets I could reveal on my way out, or emotional story I could tell? I suppose I could do all of those things, but what moved me most was my passion for this board of directors. I want to tell you a little about them all and then ask you for a big favor.
Jeff Allen dated us by attending many board meetings before he submitted to our will that he join us. We’re a persuasive bunch. From day one Jeff has brought a warm sense of humor and obvious deep care for all of us, at the same time a driving passion for accomplishing our goal to open this store. Jeff acutely knows how vital this co-op is, especially to those families who are higher risk because they lack access to healthy food options. Jeff continued to implement innovative tools to help us stay focused on moving forward, and he is the best hugger in the whole world, quite possibly.
Jean Clark and I met not long after we started this co-op effort, with her two twin foster babies, now forever-kids, held warm against her in a sling while she staffed an event we were running. Jean’s knowledge of the co-op runs deep- from our earliest days- and combined with her background in project management, she is an immeasurable asset to this board. She’s become a very dear friend of mine and she makes me laugh in the most wonderful ways.
Laura King is one of my dearest friends. She has such a strong inherent leadership within her, she quietly rises to bring structure and order to what can seem like chaos. She has the best sense of humor and never does anything halfway. You know if she takes it on, it will be done far better than you even imagined it would be. I love it when she says, “I’ve got this.”
Kevin Koski is the brightest star on our board, with his exuberance and his gentle heart, his love of spreadsheets and process, he helps us to think through all sides of things before we commit. He is the most generous soul I think I’ve ever met and has the lightest heart. He keeps us laughing and thinking creatively, takes incredible ownership of everything he takes on.
Meg Simans is my partner in co-op (rather than crime), having stuck with me through thick and thin as this board worked, and changed, and worked and changed some more. Meg leads with a warm touch (including shoulder rubs) and the most sincere smile. She truly loves everything she does, and if she doesn’t love it, she doesn’t do it. Her clarity of purpose and her strong values have helped to grow this co-op and how we treat each other, in our work, and as friends.
Annamarie Toman is taking such good care of us in all of the ways we need. She is flexible where we need it and firm when we get too far afield. She has shown herself to be someone in whom we can place our biggest trust- not only with our decisions in the board but with our financial health as well. She is gracious and kind, and cares deeply about the work we’re doing to open our store.
And let’s not leave out Jess Sappington, who will hate this, but you should also know (and never underestimate) the tireless love that Jess gives this co-op. Jess’ ability to track details seems almost inhuman at times- how can one person remember so much about what 7-10 people are doing? Yet she does it, and she steps up when our events need volunteers, and she sets us straight when we need to hear a member-owners voice in our decision-making. I don’t think anyone works harder to open this store than Jess does.
I hope this tells you a little bit more about your Board of Directors. The one thing that I’ve learned above all else is that community change starts with relationships. We have to take care of each other- listen when we are frustrated, adjust when we are overwhelmed, reach out when we’re able to help, and accept help when we need it. We have created the biggest thing that a co-op brings – a community!
My request of you is that you do your best to take good care of this board. Burn out happens, and it sneaks up when we least expect it. When your board asks the member-owners to step up and help, please know that the time that the board members spend filling in for work the members can be doing, is less time spent opening your store. When your board asks you for your ideas, and to help execute them, commit to saying yes at least one time this year to doing that. When things aren’t going along in the way you think they should, please show this board your grace and trust- come to a meeting and ask your questions. Above all else, take good care of these people. They are precious, and important and the work they are doing, few others are stepping up to do. Sustainability starts with our relationships, so tend each other well.