One on One is a weekly feature offering excerpts of interviews conducted by The Evening Sun with newsworthy business leaders. Lawrence V. Adam Jr. is founder of Harvest for the Hungry, an organization that collects food for low-income people. He is also senior vice president of Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., a stock brokerage firm.
Q. How did Harvest for the Hungry come about and what are its future plans?
A. Well, Harvest for the Hungry was started in 1987, this is our fifth annual Harvest for the Hungry campaign. It just started as a dream or as a project, if you will, and as I remember back in those days we just got a group of us together to try to figure out a way to do something for the less fortunate, and we found out that the first year we did $65,000 worth of food and money that was distributed or given to the Associated Catholic Charities. And as we did it, it felt good to do it and we found that people were very agreeable to join up as we went around, and it just went from there. Last year I think we were up 72 percent over the prior year, which was a rough year. In 1991, we are trying to exceed what we did in our four prior years put together, a million dollars. As of this morning, we're 57.31 percent toward our goal or $573, 000 plus in dollars. That's where we are; a million is our goal. When you ask about future results, hunger is an issue that just unfortunately is a growing industry. I wish in a way that we could become obsolete, quite frankly, in years to come and I hope we are obsolete. It's not something that you want to have as a growth industry, but with the recession being what it is, the need out there being great, as one person from the food banks said, 'Thank God, basically, for Harvest for the Hungry.' So we are adding and we're helping, will continue to expand and do more and more as long as there is a need, and the foreseeable future says there's going to be a need, unfortunately.
Q. How did you get involved in Harvest for the Hungry?
A. I created the idea and I just knew a lot of people and I was trying to bring in different people. We found out over a four- or five-year period what works and what doesn't work. And I hate to say this, but I stumbled my way through it but once we got creditability and once people saw that we had a track record, it seems to be the thing, if you can form a track record it's easier for people to want to join something that's established so we stumbled our first year and I use the word 'we' because I'm certainly not alone. I'm not alone, I mean, this is not a one-man show. This is not a 'me' deal, this is a 'we' deal but we started off, we got creditability, we caught a lot of good breaks, certainly getting the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland involved. When people hear that the Girl Scouts are part of Harvest for the Hungry it's very important for us. The U.S. Army Field Band and Soldier Force, located here in Fort Meade, getting them involved. Last year alone at Goucher [College] in one day we raised over 19,000 pounds. That's a lot of food. Getting Governor Schaefer to be actively supporting -- this really helped. The bottom line is, are doing a good job, we hope we're certainly growing based on the numbers, but nothing would make me happier than to become obsolete.
Q. How is Harvest for the Hungry different from a variety of other collection programs, and is there a different type of group that is involved in this project?
A. Well, you have to understand that when I answer you it's what I believe; I've had no formal training in this area, I can only tell you what other people tell me and what I know myself. First of all, Harvest for the Hungry is a year-round effort. It's not just at the holiday. I think that a lot of projects, and I'm not knocking it, a lot of projects are around the holidays when people are most giving and that's true. But as I've said to people when I talk to people, unfortunately, there's more to life than Christmas and Thanksgiving, that's only two days, there are 363 other days. So in January and February the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland are doing their thing. In January, February and March, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service are doing their thing. Last week, out at the Memorial Stadium was Harvest for the Hungry night. So how it's different, I think is that it's a year-round effort because hunger is a year-round effort, that's probably the biggest difference. The second biggest difference, to my knowledge, and again, I'm not an expert, is that it's such a diverse group. I mean you've got federal employees, you've got state employees, you've got the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, you've got the business community, you've got the United Steel Workers, you've got the U.S. Army. I mean it's quite a diverse group to say the least, and I am telling you what people told me, it's very diverse, it's very community-involved, and it's year-round.