Volunteer of the Year Award
Colorado West Financial Advisors
Cambridge Investment Research
“We didn’t know the size of the hole we uncovered,” said Mike Berry of Colorado West Financial Advisors in Grand Junction, Colo. (broker/dealer, Cambridge Investment Research),referring to the pandemic of child hunger in his community.
While walking his young daughter to school one day, he encountered a little girl crying from hunger. “I couldn’t get her out of my mind,” he remembers, and subsequently learned that some 50% of Grand Junction’s children don’t eat anywhere else except school.
Mr. Berry resolved to take action and created Kids Aid – a program that discreetly distributes extra food weekly to schoolchildren, mostly in elementary and middle school. The items are specially chosen for kids to prepare by themselves.
The program took off like wildfire, growing from a trial of 10 kids in the spring of 2008 to 1,800 kids in 37 schools in the fall of 2010. Four other communities are now replicating the program.
Mr. Berry’s work with Kids Aid grounds him. “[As advisors], we’re dealing with people with money versus dealing with children without food. It’s very humbling.”
“It’s important that we [in our industry] give back to the community – and show them we’re not just in it for our back pockets,” he said.