My wife has taken to telling our four-month-old son whenever she’s proud of the small things every day. Holding his head up on his own? Your mom is proud. Rolling over? Your mom is proud. Grabbing his feet on his own? Your mom is proud. The feedback loop is amazing to see, little Eli feels proud to make his mother happy, and mom beams with pride seeing her son smile and succeed.
I can say to you on this beautiful fall day that I feel proud of this store. Proud of the hard work that happens every day. Proud of the members and customers who support its success. Proud of the education and personal interactions that happen in that building hundreds of times a day. Proud of our inability to be satisfied with good, and constantly working to improve to do better. Proud of the larger community of which we are a part.
I’m proud that we were granted Gold Certification by Green America and became the first grocery store in Montgomery county to become a Certified Green Business. Despite those amazing recognitions of the commitment to sustainability and our current practices, it does not diminish our resolve to do more. We want to continue to evaluate our environmental practices as a store to do better, and push our partners and peers to do the same. I hope to work with other area businesses to expand composting and remove organic materials from our waste stream. We commit to support efforts in the natural foods industry and nation-wide co-op movement to reduce packaging or replace it with recyclable alternatives.
I’m proud of our commitment to our amazing staff. 51 employees work in this store, making the Co-op a top 10 employer in the City of Takoma Park. Offering these workers a living wage and benefits should fill you all with pride for supporting a store where robots will never replace real jobs. Our Co-op is a model nationally for diversity, and we’ve been asked to present several times at conferences including just this last month to Co-ops looking to create the culture that we have right here in Takoma Park.
I’m proud of our local purchasing program which I consider second to none. Our annual report lists all 187 local vendors, a tremendous number and up from 2018. Included in that are 15 vendors within two miles of this store. Changes to the cottage food laws at the state level, which the Co-op helped advocate for, will reduce barriers to entry and give even more hyper local vendors access to local markets like the Co-op.
I’m proud to represent TPSS on a variety of boards and organizations to help deepen our connection with the community throughout the county and region. I am finishing my first year on the OTBA Board and was proud to have a recent meeting just for Junction businesses to discuss issues with the City that affect us right here. I am very proud of my work with SEEC for the past four years, helping to lead their Business Advisory Council and help open work opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities. I’ve enjoyed being a member of the Montgomery County Food Council and helping to lead the charge on advocating for changes to licensing regulations in the county that will benefit businesses, non-profits and food assistance providers alike. I would be remiss without noting that many other Co-op workers participate in various non-profits and community groups, truly helping to multiply our impact.
In short, I am extremely proud to be the general manager of this store. Every single day brings new challenges, but nothing diminishes the fact that this is an amazing Co-op in an amazing community. I’m proud to work with this board to constantly move the store forward. I’m proud to see robust member engagement, both with your wallets and your time. I can’t wait to see how much more we can accomplish in the future, and how much more there will be to be proud of. Thank you all.