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Lessons in Giving, Goodness & Grace

It was the winter of 2002 when Sally Sommers opened her first newsletter from Angelic Organics Learning Center at her home in Villa Park. She was intrigued by the on-farm workshops and thought it might be the perfect location for her annual family reunion. She called Tom Spaulding, executive director and co-founder of the Learning Center. Tom obliged, and the Sommers family headed out to the farm!

The Learning Center is located on Angelic Organics Farm, a third generation farm located in Caledonia, Illinois, that is also home to one of the largest CSA produce shares in the country.  Sally and her family – 13 kids and numerous grandchildren – received a tour of the farm and a lesson in organic farming. This visit made a lasting impact on Sally and her family.

“Tom was so excited about the work and its impact,” said Sally. “I remember him holding the organic soil and saying it was a special treat, ‘like ice cream for the worms!’”

The visit was just the beginning of the friendship. The Learning Center was recently honored with a financial grant from the John & Sally Sommers FamilyFund, which rewards organizations that reflect the fund’s mission statement: To empower people to become their best selves; To promote tolerance, diversity, multicultural awareness through education and life experience; To improve the lives of others and honor the integrity of the environment and all creation.

The grant will be used to support the Eat to Live Englewood, one of the Learning Center’s urban initiatives located in Chicago. The garden and incubator farm encourages sustainability and health through organic gardening & farming, food-based entrepreneurship, cooking, nutrition, urban ecology and more. The project impacts roughly 700 Englewood residents and volunteers each year. Sally read about the project in a recent Learning Center newsletter and recommended it be considered for a grant.

“Mom was encouraged by the hope and self-sustainability this project brought the people of Englewood,” said Pat Paschke, Sally’s daughter and Sommers fund advisory board member. “Farm experiences are progressive; they give people exposure, education and skills that can be passed down through generations.”

Sally and her late husband John raised their kids to be conscious of the world around them, give back and appreciate people for their inner beauty. Their children, in turn, have passed these virtues down to the next generation. The annual family reunions always include a service project and an opportunity to share life experiences.

“When good people do good things, it spreads throughout communities and changes lives,” said Sally. “Grace runs through all of it.  You can’t do without it.”

Angelic Organics Learning Center is grateful to the Sommers family for sharing their grace, goodness, and inspiration. If you are inspired to contribute, you can click here to make a tax-deductible gift and support farm experiences for all generations!

By Kathleen Bolin