My husband and I moved to the Upper Valley approximately ten years ago. As a transplant from Southern California, I was stunned by the high rate of poverty in the state of Vermont. It was disheartening to observe so many young people, often working two and three jobs to support the basics such as rent, utilities, transportation and of course, food. For many years my husband and I had dreamed about escaping the rat race of Los Angeles in exchange for a life in the peaceful, picturesque, verdant green hills and farms of Vermont. The beauty of the NE surrounds us daily and yet it has been very difficult not to also experience the swath of poverty that underscores a peaceful existence for all.
Over the past several years I have also been involved in an organization, PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization), that assists young women in completing their education by providing low cost education loans, grants and scholarships. The stark reality of poverty, lack of education and opportunities to procure decent employment is a staggering reality for too many women in the Upper Valley. These combined conditions typically result in households without access to and the inability to afford sustainable, locally grown food.
As a practiced, long standing cook, not professional by any means, I cook from scratch. I love to cook and I love to feed people. I think in our age of impersonal and encroaching technology, required work hours and little time to spend in the kitchen making wholesome meals, is a tradition that many families have lost. Cooking is like therapy for me. The Co-op has assisted me in my personal venture to feed my family and friends well.
And on that note, I believe that all communities in the Upper valley should have access to the quality of food that the Co-op provides. I believe that it is imperative for the Co-op to become more diverse and inclusive to all of the members in our community, especially those lives steeped and overwhelmed by poverty.
Q & A with Allene
What interests you about serving on the Co-op’s Board of Directors?
I would like to involved in the expansion of diversity and inclusion within the COOP Board and stores.
Please describe any experience you may have serving on a board, committee or community group.
I am currently on the standing Hartford Committee of Racial Inequality and Inclusion. As a California transplant I was on the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) Board in Region II for three years. I was the board president of a Pasadena Youth Orchestra and was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, and the Chamber of Commerce in Beverley Hills CA.
Please describe any experience or skills that will help you be an effective board member.
As an ex-banker for twenty years, I ran branches staffed with twenty to one hundred employees. I have developed interpersonal skills and I have extensive experience in mediating common issues that arise in every organization.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for the Co-op?
I think the future of the Cc-op will include the refurbishing of several current locations and perhaps an expansion into areas that are not currently served by the Co-op. Like most institutions, I think the future challenges will be in the area of price controls for goods that are in demand and are difficult to procure. I personally use home food delivery services, especially in winter months, or more specifically, after my husband's knee surgery.
Perhaps a home food delivery service might find a large enough group of people who would prefer to have complete meals that included easy to follow menus, to preclude them from having to go to the store to purchase food?