I’ve been stewing over ways to publicly thank H-E-B for their heroic efforts over the past year to help fund the VISD Education Foundation. But just like that, the grocery store giant has successfully squashed my analysis paralysis as one contemplates their carefully crafted and immediate response to show care as this virus, this dreaded virus lingers on.

As our single largest donor to date, H-E-B puts its money where its mouth is according to their mission to make “each and every person count.”

Just like the smell of fresh French bread wafting through their stores, such accountability permeates a culture of care here in Texas and beyond. As a result, H-E-B represents more than a grocery store; H-E-B represents a way of doing life. It’s a way of life clothed as a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of people that do not stop until everything is done, with an overarching sense of urgency that comes with drive, concern, and true grit.

H-E-B also illustrates community. Growing up, my dad was the kind of person that loved going to the store, and for our family, that store was H-E-B. He loved going to the store because, well, he loves food, but much more importantly – he loves people. He was the guy that would linger for an hour, not because he had a long list, but because he knew everyone and everyone knew him. People make my dad come alive. They give him life and energy. But for now, he continues to remain confined to his assisted living residence. Oh, how I long to visit him indoors again and take him out to my house and to his favorite store: H-E-B.

Because of this, H-E-B symbolizes a hub of humanity as community members stand around their grocery carts catching up on the latest news, the weather, and to see how others are doing. Just as we need food to survive, we need others to thrive, not to simply feel good about ourselves. It’s so much more than that. It is the understanding that extrovert or not, we are all connected, and finding our place in society requires that we value others. We all have people we need, and that need us (whether we realize it or not).

H-E-B also embodies certain people, and for the Education Foundation, those people are two of our board members, Doug Wallace and Gus Kroos. Doug is the current General Manager of H-E-B Plus! here in Victoria, and Gus is retired from H-E-B after 35 years of service. As a result of their loyal service to both H-E-B and to the Education Foundation, H-E-B trusts and supports what we do to back innovative and creative approaches to education in VISD to help all kids reach their full potential.

H-E-B’s investment in the lives of students paves the way for brighter futures. Some of these kids may even go on to work for the corporation, helping to serve our local community with the companies off-the-charts commitment to customer service coupled with an inventory of quality products – a recipe for entrepreneurial success.

This recipe of excellence is one we should all follow. And follow to the T. So, thank you, H-E-B, for helping us cook up educational greatness, create a tasty dish at home or just kick back with a sandwich and chips for dinner knowing that we are held safe in your arms with a belly full of food and a heart bursting with gratitude for all that you do – and will do – for our community.