We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Stromquist and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, what do you attribute your success to?
Being the Executive Director of a nonprofit, the success of our brand means that more children and families are being served with food they need. The key to that success is the community in the metro Denver area that has rallied behind our mission. When we started in 2014, many were unaware how many children in Adams County were going to bed hungry every night due to food insecurity in their homes. Promoting our brand meant spreading awareness of this very real issue threatening children each day. As community members and businesses became more informed, they partnered with us to help build our programs. Six years later, we are in three school districts and over 30 schools. Food for Hope has only been able to achieve this growth due to individuals, organizations, churches, and businesses who chose to volunteer and contribute financially to our food distribution efforts.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I graduated with a Business Management degree in 2005. I knew I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, but life dictated differently. After losing everything I owned in Hurricane Katrina, starting over at home in a corporate job, moving to Colorado to get married, and having two kids – I finally got to the place where I received the opportunity to be a part of a nonprofit organization. In 2014, I was handed an idea and a blank slate. The vision was helping children in food insecure situations by partnering with schools to reach kids in households that were struggling. Creating and building Food for Hope has been a constant education, and I have grown a lot professionally during this time. But the years spent in the corporate world prepared me for the various challenges of creating an organization from the ground up. Even thought it took 10 years to get to where I hoped to be, all of the detours played a part in my success. Hopefully that is encouraging to others who are just beginning the journey of pursuing their dreams.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have lived in the Denver area for 15 years now. I love welcoming visitors who have never been here before, and watching as they take in the Colorado views for the first time. If I were hosting a friend’s visit to Denver, I would make sure we spent plenty of time exploring the mountains. First, we’d make a quick stop for some Beau Jo’s pizza in Idaho Springs and then continue on for some exploring and maybe hitting up some hot springs along the way. Maybe we’d even stay the night in Breckenridge and then continue the drive to Estes Park to visit the iconic Stanley Hotel and grab an Elk burger at Penelope’s. Closer to the city, I’d take them up to the top of the Flatirons in Chautauqua Park in Boulder. After the hike, we would have to hit up Illegal Pete’s for a burrito and Pearl Street for some local shopping. Finally, a night in downtown Denver including dinner at Panzano and a show at the Buell Theater would round out the trip.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Food for Hope began as a result of the compassionate hearts of Former Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams & ThornCreek Church Pastor Ruben Villarreal. They saw the need, had a big idea, and then gave me the opportunity to create an organization to help local children in a new way. Without their confidence and support, I wouldn’t have been empowered to start Food for Hope and continue to grow it into the nonprofit it is today.