A Legacy to Lessen Struggle

A message from Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Reynolds

Born into a cotton sharecropping community in rural Arkansas, and one of 12 children in a family that struggled mightily to put food on the table, Floyd Jones was not the most obvious choice to become one of the most generous Seattleites of his generation. Yet, that’s exactly what Floyd’s legacy is. During his lifetime and upon his passing, he helped dozens of local nonprofit organizations— including the largest bequeathed gift to Northwest Harvest in our history. That gift is proving to be transformational.

I knew Floyd from the early 2000s. I recall he was engaged in advocacy work across a broad spectrum of issues that mattered greatly to him. Whether it was rights for women and girls, non-violence, or equipping citizens to be more informed, Floyd backed his passion with quality time, a zeal for learning, financial support, and an infectious warmth.

With the start of the school year, I am reminded of Floyd’s retelling of childhood stories that for his siblings, September brought the arrival of the single pair of shoes his family could afford, just in time to go back to school. I felt that Floyd deeply, passionately understood the struggle, the fear, and the punishing emotional toll that hunger leaves. I think that is why he invested in Northwest Harvest’s capacity to address hunger in Washington state.

Thanks to Floyd, we’ve been able to add an entire year’s worth of milk and eggs to the menu for our guests at SODO Community Market, maintain a handful of schools’ weekend backpack programs across the state for children who might not otherwise eat between Friday evening and Monday morning, and finally upgrade an advocacy position to provide expert staffing in support of our crucial policy work. Northwest Harvest will expend the interest earned on Floyd’s gift, not the principle— this was Floyd’s intent.

I think Floyd would delight in how we are using his amazing gift. Prior to Floyd’s passing, I had the opportunity to sit beside him one last time. We talked about the importance of providing healthy food for people who need it today, while also working diligently to address the reasons why members of our community face hunger.

I will forever be grateful for Floyd’s foresight to perpetually contribute to making Washington a more equitable home for its residents who struggle with hunger, as an anecdote to the struggle his family endured when he was small.