A First Lady Breaks New Ground in the Fight to Save Our Kids

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

How do we inspire resiliency and hope in the kids who need them the most? First Lady of Massachusetts Lauren Baker and Boston restaurateur Chris Himmel (Grill 23, Post 390, Harvest, Bistro du Midi) join host Billy Shore for a heartfelt conversation about how creating positive experiences can have a profound impact on underprivileged kids. Baker discusses her work for the Wonderfund, which partners with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to provide comfort and dignity to children. These comforts can be as simple as buying a young boy in foster care a baseball glove. “He was able to play little league, engage with his friends, and be part of his community. That’s a moment that really matters for a child,” she explains. Himmel is very intentional about finding causes that he and his restaurants can support that have a direct impact on kids. “If you really care, you can find a way to make a difference. What we get is so much more because our team sees first-hand the difference they can make,” he says of the hands-on programs his restaurants support, including exposing hundreds of kids to farms with Green Growers and the Boys & Girls Club.

First Lady Baker feels that all children deserve support. “No child is responsible for trauma that happens. Kids are dependent on the adults in their lives for survival and when the adults aren’t able for whatever reason to provide for them, the child is the one who suffers,” she says. Himmel feels that immigrants are another vulnerable group who deserve support. “From my standpoint, we couldn’t operate without people who were able to immigrate into our country. If there is additional red tape that prevents additional people from being able to come to our country and make a life for themselves, it’s not just hurting them, it’s hurting our industry and subsequently a lot of other industries,” he believes.

Listen to these two committed children’s advocates discuss their motivations and the impact that simple acts can have on a child’s life.

Resources and Mentions:

Lauren Baker

Currently serves as the First Lady of Massachusetts alongside her husband, Governor Charlie Baker. As First Lady, Lauren works to improve the lives of the children of Massachusetts, focusing through the Wonderfund on the children served by our Department of Children and Families. Lauren is a veteran of the advertising world in both New York and Boston where she led and managed the development of brand campaigns for consumer products, technology companies and non-profit organizations. Today, Lauren works as a marketing communications consultant, building brand strategies for independent schools with The Baker Group. Her continued passion for service and social responsibility is evident through her current work to increase awareness and raise funds for a number of causes. Lauren actively serves on the Regional Board of Directors for American Red Cross of Massachusetts and is a founding member of the Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders. She served for several years on the Board of Trustees and as a volunteer at Marian Court College, a small, private college that catered to first generation students from low-income families. Lauren also serves on the Phoenix Charter Academy Foundation Board which provides private funding to support the programs of The Phoenix Academy Charter Schools serving at-risk teens. Lauren holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Chris Himmel

Of the Himmel Hospitality Group, Chris grew up in the restaurant business. The Himmel family owns and operates four of Boston/Cambridge’s most successful and respected restaurants: Grill 23 & Bar, Harvest Restaurant, Post 390, and Bistro du Midi. A graduate of the prestigious Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Chris set his sights on learning from the best in hospitality, training under Danny Meyer and Chef Thomas Keller. Chris brings a deep passion for product and hospitality to each of the three Boston/Cambridge restaurants owned by Himmel Hospitality Group restaurants. A supporter of the Boys & Girls Club, Chris has invited youth members to come in and cook their own garden-grown product and experience the inner workings of a restaurant.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Wondefund

A private, nonprofit, 501(c)3 that serves children engaged with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families through a unique and exclusive partnership. We provide comfort and dignity to children in traumatic situations and enrich childhoods that have been impacted by abuse and neglect. The Wonderfund invests in children by providing opportunities and access to emergency aid and transitional necessities that empower kids and inspire resiliency, hope and success.

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