https://www.glwd.org/blog/the-honor-of-a-lifetime-karen-pearl-reflects-on-16-years/

12.22.22
/ Community

The Honor of a Lifetime: Karen Pearl Reflects on 16 Years as President & CEO

Dear Community,

I write to you today with gratitude – gratitude for a wonderful holiday season, for a year full of tremendous growth and opportunity for God’s Love We Deliver, and most of all, gratitude for every single person who has made the past sixteen years so remarkable.

As you know, this is my last holiday season as President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver. In January, my dear friend and colleague David Ludwigson will step into the role to guide God’s Love into its next phase of transformation and expansion. I am so excited for what David will bring to the role and how he will guide God’s Love. I will be close by as Special Advisor to the President & CEO, continuing our work to grow awareness for God’s Love and to expand the food is medicine movement here and across the country.

As I look back on all the many seasons I have had at God’s Love, I am in awe of you – your generosity of spirit and relentless drive to help others.

Watch Karen's Thank You Video

I first encountered God’s Love in the 1980s when I lost some of my closest friends to HIV. During this time of loss and grief, I remember hearing about an organization that served as a beacon of light to an entire community. God’s Love didn’t just feed people living with HIV, they delivered dignity and love during a desperate and lonely time. To those who supported their neighbors during this pivotal moment, thank you for what you put in motion. You built our organization’s unshakeable foundation and have paved the way for where we are today. You have changed hearts, minds, and countless lives.

And to all those who have followed – staff, volunteers and supporters – I thank you as well. You have contributed to keeping our values front and center. You have helped us stay true to our founding principle that being sick and hungry is a crisis that demands an urgent response and to deliver on that promise every day.

My parents instilled in me and my brothers a passion for living a life of purpose. Around the dinner table with family and friends – where food was a focal point, being both nourishing and abundant – we talked about values and the importance of serving others. My brothers and I learned that we had a responsibility to help others in need, and, thus, to help heal the world.

And that’s what God’s Love is all about. Being here gives us the chance to be of great service and to help heal, a beautiful combination for so many, and one that was perfect for me. It has been the highlight of my career to lead this great organization that touches so many lives and nourishes so many people.

I started at God’s Love tasked with the exciting and meaningful work of growing the organization, increasing its awareness across New York, promoting health and wellness through our services, and creating the belief that what we do has significant impact and must be embraced by the healthcare field.

We have done all of this, and more! We quadrupled the number of meals to more than 3 million annually. We moved into our beautiful home, The Michael Kors Building, and secured the historic Northern Dispensary as our second home. We made so many enhancements to our program and client experience, including shifting meal production to our chilled/frozen model, serving new populations, launching a new packaging system, growing sustainability efforts by sourcing wild-caught fish, antibiotic-free chicken, grass-fed beef, and local dairy, and expanding our reach to new clients in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties, and more.

Together, we have weathered (literally!) so many challenges, from Hurricane Sandy to snowstorms, from the financial crisis of 2008 to COVID.

We have made an imprint on healthcare, providing medically tailored meals to healthcare plan members through 30 healthcare contracts. We have celebrated many milestones, from our 10 millionth meal with our beloved Joan Rivers to our 30 millionth this past spring with our great friends Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. We have grown our volunteer opportunities to engage the many thousands who have come to us with their ready hands and open hearts. We have welcomed thousands of new supporters who have become champions for our work and taken the message of “food is medicine” from the City and State to Congress, with a bill supporting medically tailored meals. And, as you know, it was certainly a high point of my career to advance the Food is Medicine movement when I spoke at the White House Conference on Hunger, Health and Nutrition this past September.

God’s Love has come a long way, and there is much work still to be done. I look forward to all that our great community will continue to do on behalf of our clients and their families well into the future.

God’s Love We Deliver has changed the landscape of New York City since its founding in 1985. Together, we have saved lives and supported families. I am grateful to have been on the team with such committed and extraordinary people who have worked at God’s Love over these many years, or volunteered their services and given their gifts of time, or donated their resources to fuel our expansion, or, as is true for so many, filled more than one of these roles. Each of you has given our clients your heart and has made it possible for us to never turn anyone away who calls and says that they are sick and hungry, and in need of God’s Love services and our nutritious meals.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver. It has been the honor of a lifetime.

With gratitude,

Karen

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