For the last decade, Jim David Meats has provided food to students and families in the Union County school system. Last year, the business’ reach extended into the classroom and those efforts combined to earn it the 2017 Friend of Education Award.
The business received the honor Feb. 24 during the Kentucky School Boards Association’s 81st Annual Conference in Louisville. KSBA sponsors the award, given annually since 1989.
Jimmy and Linda Baird, owners of Jim David Meats, receives the 2017 Friend of Education Award Friday, Feb. 24, at KSBA’s 81st Annual Conference in Louisville. From left, KSBA President Allen Kennedy; Jimmy Baird; Linda Baird; and KSBA Executive Director Mike Armstrong.
Jim David Meats, owned by Jimmy Baird and his wife, Linda, is a hometown business that distributes meat products in grocery chains. The couple has donated more than 3,000 half-hams to needy families in the school system over the last 10 years. At a recent school event, the Bairds hand-delivered 400 box lunches to the district.
In addition, the business has sponsored employee and student events, donated money to the local early literacy program Imagination Library, and sponsored sports programs. Jim David Meats also supports the county’s parochial school in a variety of fundraisers and events.
This school year, Jimmy Baird contacted Union County Superintendent Patricia Sheffer with an offer to further assist students in the district.
Baird and his wife had been invited to judge a regional “Shark Tank” competition where people pitched their ideas for starting new businesses. A woman was looking for help to market her program, which was designed to teach people how to read.
That presentation hit close to home for Baird, who had himself struggled with literacy.
As he shared with the KSBA conference crowd in accepting the award, he was dyslexic and hated school because of his reading difficulties. “I had teachers tell me when I was in the classroom or walking down the hall – and this is the God’s truth – that I’d never amount to nothing. This was all the time.”
After helping the woman with a business plan for her reading program – and using it himself – he contacted Sheffer and offered to pay the cost if the district would implement the program. The district is now using “Reading Works” across the entire district this year.
“I hear people tell me all the time, ‘You’re lucky.’ I’m not lucky. I was told every day you’re not going to succeed.” Instead, he said, he works to solve problems, and today he and his wife own seven companies. “When people tell you, you can’t do something, anybody can do anything they want to,” he said.