What is your first memory of Big Y?
As a youngster, I would go with my father and uncle to visit local farms to buy produce. We only had one store then, in Chicopee. It was always such a treat to visit those local farms throughout the growing season. From our earliest days to today, supporting our local farm families and producers has been a big part of our company.
What was your first job at Big Y?
Along with my other 5 siblings, we helped out from a very early age. We did everything and anything from sorting returnable milk and soda bottles to filling and straightening product on shelves and to removing and recycling cardboard. We helped customers with their groceries and collected shopping carts. As we got older, we stocked shelves, worked in produce and deli and I eventually learned to cut meat. After my meat apprenticeship was over, I was proud to receive my own set of butcher knives which I still have and use to this day!
What are you proudest of?
I am most proud of our hardworking, caring and dedicated people. We refer to each other as “The Big Y Family”. Folks, both past and present, at all levels are proud to serve their customers and community. Over the years, we’ve been tested starting with the founding of our company in the midst of the Great Depression, through the war years in World War II, the turbulence of the 60’s and 70’s, and later, the Great Recession. But of course, who could have predicted the global Pandemic where our world was tossed upside down! Despite the risks and challenges, our Big Y Family showed up every day because our communities and customers depended on them. I will be forever thankful to them for their courage, dedication and resilience.
What do you like to do when you’re not thinking about Big Y?
We have 10 beautiful and adorable grandchildren that keep us delightfully busy. In addition, my wife and I like to ski, hike, and snowshoe. Personally, I enjoy reading especially books about history and leadership. Finally, I enjoying helping out our communities whether it is serving on non-profit boards or supporting organizations like the Farmer’s Awards or The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
Why did you and your family decide to make such a tremendous pledge to The Food Bank’s capital campaign?
Hunger relief has been important to us since our founding in 1936. Even though my father and uncle were struggling themselves in their fledgling business, they allowed people to buy groceries on credit and even forgave some of those debts for their customers who were struggling to repay. Forty years ago, we were one of the inaugural supporters of The Food Bank when it started and today we support four regional food banks and many, many food pantries in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Living, working and growing up in the fertile Connecticut River Valley, for me, only underscores that no one in our community, especially young children, should go hungry. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, the need has only grown and it is vitally important that The Food Bank has a facility to meet the urgent challenges and needs of our neighbors in our community.