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Leaving a Legacy

A legacy? . . . of my own that my descendants can use as their own. I have grappled with this question for two years as I prepared to retire from business. I have worked for a Fortune 500 company and its divisions for the last 30 years and then worked for ten years in a non-profit. Finally, I was ready to retire. But what does it mean To quit – Put away your corporate clothes and embrace playing golf, being a grandparent, and spending time with your buddies every day.

The answer for each one of us is different. I had spent the last ten years working for a non-profit, which opened my eyes to the world. I wanted to make a difference. I would like you to contribute to the world in ways I have not done during my working life. Sure, I had traveled the world and opened new channels for my company. But, really helped??? No.

Whenever she met someone, my mother would ask, “Have you done something to save the world today?” Then, she launched herself and talked about how we could make a difference. That question came back to me, and I thought, why not? Why not spend the rest of my life ensuring I make a difference in the world? There are plenty of opportunities to help. You can join organizations in your community, or you can start your own. The key is to do something and not spend time glued to your couch, watching TV, and waiting for the end.

My 3rd career direction took work. I had ideas, but I needed help putting them into practice. Then, my granddaughter came along, and I put my plans aside as I embraced her and her growing world: We (my wife and I) started by selling the house, downsizing, moving state, and becoming grandparents that take care of the baby for the day, while my daughter and her husband work all day. It’s been an absolute delight as my granddaughter, Bridget, has blossomed in front of our eyes and has captured our hearts. This is an excellent way to be part of my granddaughter’s life and make a difference at the same time. We would have missed these early years if we had lived far away and only got to see her for the holidays. This way, we can see and enjoy her daily as she grows up. There will be another grandchild to care for soon, and we are ready for it. We are anticipating it. Bridget has gotten us ready to tackle other grandchildren and stay young as we run after her, take her to the park, libraries, playgrounds, zoos, play zones, and just plain with us as we do our daily tasks. She grows in front of our eyes and gets smarter by the day.

Now, it’s time to go back and plan for that 3rd career. Create a legacy for my grandkids and remember me for making a difference. My idea is to create a viable solution to offer fresh farm foods to those in need who cannot afford them. This solution would be to make less-than-perfect vegetables, which are thrown away today, available to the final customer. The solution creates a supply chain to move those vegetables from the farm to co-ops that sell those perishables to people who are in need at low prices based on need.

The model needs to be created, resources such as funding signed up, existing channels used to move the vegetables, and the farms currently throwing away these less-than-perfect vegetables signed up to provide them at no cost. If we can find funding or donations in kind from the farms and the supply chain and create co-ops or use existing ones to deliver and sell the vegetables, we could begin to solve world hunger.

It’s an ambitious project that would take scale, funding, government involvement, and the help of many people to make it happen, but it can be done. The Gates Foundation is already funding and tackling the issue of providing fresh water worldwide. That project is significant in its undertaking, and they are up to the task. Perhaps they would help us tackle this project as well. We need the funding and the expertise to reach out to partners in the supply chain that would make this project come to fruition. Farms worldwide are throwing away less-than-perfect food at a rate big enough to solve world hunger. We could solve world hunger if we marshal the resources to make this project a reality.

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