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Robert Egger made us think
Robert Egger, Founder and President of DC Central Kitchen, is an approachable, engaging and provoking man who was impressed with what are doing here on Orcas in the way of making food and philanthropy benefit our island.
But he also made us think about ways to do it better, which was why about 50 people came to hear him talk at Odd Fellows Hall on a beautiful Monday evening on Orcas. His visit was sponsored by the Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF), the Orcas Island Food Bank and the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Program.
A product of the “Hippy Movement” and a man of his own making, Egger brought the point home that .orgs and .coms (non-profits and for-profits) have a lot in common but fight to stay apart. His point, which he has proven with the success of DC Central Kitchen, is that you can “do good things, make money at it, and feel good about it.”
Many non-profits on the island have similar missions and, in fact, would compliment each other if they joined forces, shared resources and expanded their horizons – an idea shared by the Orcas Island Community Foundation. For example, Egger observes that school kitchens are idle every evening, weekend and during the summer. Why not utilize that resource with a profitable endeavor, led by volunteers and perhaps providing elective credit for students that would provide financial support for the Orcas Food Bank and the Farm to Cafeteria programs and be a place where food could be prepared and served to families when school is out? A place where people without the ability to give great amounts of money can give their time to generate money for our valuable programs that benefit our island families who otherwise might go hungry, and perhaps also learn lessons in food service and business management.
This is just one example of how non-profits could earn profits to support the non-profits instead of relying so heavily on donations, which was the crux of Egger’s message.
A novel idea with a basis in the possible. I’m hoping the conversation Egger started will not go the way of many nice Orcas evening events and be forgotten, but instead produce something we know can happen. Perhaps an “Orcas Central Kitchen” is in our future?
Robert Egger is back in DC, but took the time to write an amazing account of his visit. It looks like he was as impressed with us as we were with him!
You can see what he had to say by going to his blog site: http://www.robertegger.org/blog/2011/06/island-philanthropy/.