I don’t know whether I should thank Mom or blame her, but one lesson she taught me is the need to give back, that idea of humble service. She raised nine children but still managed to find the time to get involved in areas that mattered. For as long as I can remember, she volunteered in our classrooms, the library and the school offices. From elementary through high school, she was there. In retirement, she devoted much of her time to her passion, crisis pregnancy counseling. She was an activist, a leader, a teacher and a giver. She was my hero, my example today and every day.
Let’s just say I’ve got a long road ahead of me to find myself just barely in her shadow.
The growth of STONEFIRE has enabled us, as a company and a team of great people, to get involved in a variety of ways in our communities. From Valencia to Irvine and back to Thousand Oaks, we love to support local groups – especially the schools. Sports teams, teachers, clubs, outstanding students…you name it and I feel the nudge from above to just say “yes”! What goes around comes full circle. As we continue to give, so also do we continue to receive tremendous support and develop great relationships with all of our local schools.
“Community”, that sense of togetherness, one of action and betterment for the sake of the collective, does not stop here.
My nephew, Brendan, has lived with Cystic Fibrosis for his 23 years of life. The disease is devastating but so close to being understood and cured. We’re proud to partner with CFF to raise money to bring that cure to fruition. Plans are under way to ask for your help, too, in a variety of fundraisers within each STONEFIRE location to benefit the worthy cause, one near and dear to my family and so many others. It is the least we can do for Brendan, an accountant in the Bay Area and another one of my heroes.
Keeping with the theme, let’s take a look at some heroes so often overlooked – those men and women in uniform that serve our communities.
I have to say, these are some of STONEFIRE’s favorites. In Valencia, we’re nicknamed the “Firehouse Grill” because of all our friends in the LA County Fire Department that dine with us. They are selfless, generous and really appreciative of a good meal. Some of STONEFIRE’s most memorable events have been when we’ve partnered with our various police and fire departments.
In Irvine, we sponsor “Shop with a Cop” every December. Over 50 kids living in a domestic violence shelter pair with over 50 Irvine Police Officers and go shopping for Christmas gifts for themselves and their moms. The event culminates with a great meal at STONEFIRE Grill. I have watched officers time and again increase the shopping budget we provide and reach into their own pockets simply for the smile they receive in return. They do it like they do their jobs – quietly, without fanfare and with huge hearts. I love to watch the faces of the shoppers in Target when all of those ‘cops’ walk in to shop and leave with Barbie dolls, racecars, video games and more!
Another favorite is Habitat for Humanity. In recent years, we have done what little we can to help raise needed funds to build homes. A little goes a long way because of the dedicated volunteers that generously give their time and labor every step of the way. We are working towards a STONEFIRE Team that regularly picks up the hammer and nails in addition to providing a lunch or two! It has been a great experience for our team members that have been involved and an exciting opportunity as we move forward.
The best part of trying to be a company that gives back is the attitude that has developed amongst our entire team. We don’t hesitate to help when an opportunity presents itself. Both inside our restaurants and beyond, the underlying philosophy is simple – if we can help, we always do so without thinking twice. We’re in the business of selling great food, but the greatest success, for me, is when I can look around and see a bit of Mom’s influence in STONEFIRE Grill.