This fall, we asked locals to nominate Hunterdon County’s biggest Movers & Shakers. With dozens of amazing stories, our accomplished judges had their work cut out for them when it came to narrowing down the Top 10 Movers & Shakers of 2014!
With the official results in, we’re going to be taking a closer look at each winner and sharing their incredible stories.
Next up, meet Pittstown resident Chip Paillex. Chip bravely left behind a successful 17-year corporate career in marketing to create a hunger relief organization, with no prior experience in the non-profit nor farming sector.
HH: You’ve taken on a tremendous challenge in recent years. What motivates you every morning?
CP: Knowing that I’m following my calling and that the work I do helps to provide free fresh healthy produce to thousands of people who are hungry all across New Jersey.
HH: What would you say is your idea of a perfect day?
CP: Going to the farm first thing in the morning to harvest produce with my family and then immediately going to hand out those same fruits and vegetables to anyone who can’t afford to feed themselves or their families. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that’s second to none. Having my family side by side brings it to a level that can’t be beat.
HH: Who inspires you?
CP: Many of today’s youth that give so much of themselves to help others, such as my daughter who has inspired me through her genuine giving nature. I have been very fortunate to meet and work side by side with some rather amazing elementary and high school students that have spent hours and hours volunteering in so many different capacities to help America’s Grow-a-Row. What inspires me is that with so many potential distractions our youth have today and their endless schedules, to see them so focused on helping their neighbors in need, gives me great confidence in our future generations.
HH: How did you decide to create America’s Grow-a-Row foundation?
CP: After starting a garden with my then 4 year old daughter, we had extra produce and saw a plea to local gardeners in the paper for fresh fruits and vegetables to be donated to the Flemington Area Food Pantry. That request officially started the program and from then on the concept and our impact grew to the point where I had to leave my corporate career in order to keep the program moving forward. After an extremely generous contribution from an anonymous donor, I was then able to work full time and take my passion and turn it into my new profession.
HH: Which achievement are you most proud of?
CP: My greatest professional achievement would be the work I have done through America’s Grow-a-Row. Being successful can be defined in many ways, but for me from both a personal and professional standpoint, providing hope and serving our neighbors who are food insecure is something that gives me a great sense of pride while at the same time has been an extremely humbling experience. Also, instilling and cultivating these values and a spirt of giving into my daughter’s heart is has been an absolute blessing in our lives.
HH: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
CP: Walking away from a very successful 17 year corporate career to create a hunger relief organization, with no prior experience in the non-profit nor farming sector. This has been one of the greatest learning experiences and rewarding decisions in my life.
HH: What is the biggest accomplishment that you’d like to achieve over the next 5 years?
CP: To expand our efforts outside of New Jersey to help feed thousands of other families and individuals throughout the country.
HH: How do you think your friends & coworkers would describe you?
CP: Driven, focused and strong in my faith along with being completely committed to my family who has supported, encouraged and stood by my side every step of this awesome journey.
HH: Where’s your favorite place to go in Hunterdon County?
CP: Any winding and hilly back road that passes through Hunterdon County’s beautiful farms and woodland. Roads I travel everyday still give me a sense of awe and appreciation that can’t be compared. I could never imagine living anywhere else.
HH: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself ten years ago, what advice would you give?
CP: Don’t spend a minute worrying about anything because all will work out according to God’s plan. Continue to follow your passion and dreams with faith and expectancy as the reward will be great and life changing.
Check out Chip’s segment on CNN Heroes: