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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.


May 24, 2006


The world is filled with heroes; unfortunately we sometimes don’t know where to find them.

Years ago I was closing a deal with a very successful businessperson. One of the principals involved in the negotiation ran a large national company that was responsible for inventing a certain product. I was given the lengthy details of his business success story immediately before the deal was negotiated in the hopes that I would be awed and intimidated during the negotiation process. I wasn’t.

I am not easily awed. Especially when basing someone’s worth on the size of his or her bank account.

Our society has misplaced the worth and value of its people. We are all valuable, each and every one of us. Basketball stars are put on a pedestal simply because they can jump high and throw a ball through a hoop. For this they receive millions and millions of dollars and the general public’s admiration.

Actors make a living by pretending to be someone else while speaking dialogue written by someone else. For this they command salaries as high as $20 million per movie and become the subject of half of the magazine topics on the news rack. It’s as if the more money they make, and the more “celebrity” they garner, the more we become enamored with their lives.

Those people are not heroes. True heroes are people such as Cookie and Bill Proubt, a couple who had successful professional careers and left it all to start a soup kitchen to feed those who couldn’t afford to eat. Twenty years ago they formed Christian Services, Inc. in my hometown where they feed, clothe and counsel, tens of thousands of people every year. I’ll take Cookie and Bill Proubt over the roster of every NBA team, any day.

Heroes are people such as Tommy Griffin who was forced to sell his family business and spend a year away from his wife and three children to honor his National Guard duty in Iraq. I’ll take one Tommy Griffin over the entire audience at the Academy Awards and not think twice about it.

Cat Cora, a native of Jackson, Miss, is nowhere near the pinnacle of her career, yet on her way up she founded the Chef’s for Humanity organization, which is the only group of its kind.

Chef’s for Humanity was formed to be a first responder of food during crises and emergencies. In the immediate days after Hurricane Katrina, Cora and a group of notable volunteers mobilized to the coast and set up mobile kitchens to feed those in need. Today, the organization continues to grow and expand its mission.

One idea, one thought, from one person is making a huge difference in the lives of those who need help the most.

Today there are people on the Gulf Coast who wake up every morning in tents and FEMA trailers not knowing what is in store for them, that day, or any day in the future. All across the country, people are in need. We’ve got plenty of stars, what we need are more heroes.

I am truly awed by the Proubts, Griffins, Coras of the world.

The true heroes aren’t in the pages of “People” magazine or “Sports Illustrated” but right next door, down the street, and across town. Join them and be a true hero to someone in need

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