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In the Footsteps of St. Francis

Story ID:10613
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:- - usa
Person:Chip Paillex
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I read about Chip Paillex on Takepart this morning. It brought tears of happiness
to my eyes. Here is a man who I believe is walking in the footsteps of St. Francis.
And for that matter- in the present day footsteps of Pope Francis as well. Both men
cared about the hungry poor and this man evidently does too.

Do we have any people in Congress of this ilk? We do, but my belief is that there
are so few of them- whereas the self-serving can be found in greater numbers. I
am really not capable of producing hard facts in this regard, but I have read that
many of our congress people are millionaires. Where’s the money coming from?
Your guess is as good as mine, but I believe it is from special interests and big
corporations. Am I wrong?

In Chip Paillex is a man that many of us could learn from. A former marketing
manager, he and his daughter started out with a small garden they planted
together. He found this work rewarding and expanded his garden to where he
was putting in 80 punishing hour-weeks between his job and his garden, but
that would change when he was laid off from his marketing job.

Now he could devote full time to farming and in the course of time, he has
become head of America’s Grow-a-Row whose mission is simple – grow food for
those in need. And how does this farmer spend his days now that he heads an
organization? Does he relax in a hammock all day just watching his crops grow?
Hardly, ask any farmer and they will tell you that the work days are long and hard.

And sometimes the unexpected happens. One day after a huge thunderstorm,
Paillex came out to find half of his garden of corn lying down. What would the
faint of heart do? Probably just throw up their hands and say this is it. I need to do
something else. Not Paillex. He went out into his field and with a hand trowel
he repacked every single stalk. From this experience he learned a greater respect
for those farmers who had acres of corn and have this happen to them.

One of the reasons for developing this passion to grow food for the hungry happened
when he visited a food pantry where he was surprised to find that there was no
produce. He had read somewhere that the pantry would accept produce donations,
so he dropped some of his produce there. A woman came running after him and said –
“Please promise me you will come pack. I need this produce. I can’t keep eating this
canned and processed food.”

Paillex’s operation is expanding and he was in the process of buying another farm. The
community also is interested in volunteering and as of now there are 4,000 volunteers.
Some help pick the food. Some go out into the community and ask people what they
should grow. And others help educate kids about where their food comes from.

Of these volunteers -Paillex said that they have the satisfaction of helping others. They
also get insight into and understand the needs folks whom they might have earlier
dismissed as problem people. Yes, he is sounding more and more like Pope Francis
to me.