Melissa leaves, HFP stays: Both continue to do good things!

They sometimes call her the “Dog Whisperer.” Melissa Tjapkes has many talents. Her floral arrangements are the best, in my humble opinion. Her custom-made jewelry is incredible. Her work in putting together a highly efficient volunteer program at Humanity for Prisoners is saving us thousands of dollars. But her real love is animals! Especially animals in need. And so, while saddened by her decision to leave HFP, I concede that her appointment as Administrative Assistant for the Noah Project, an animal shelter in neighboring Muskegon County, is a “marriage made in heaven.” 

I really dislike the end of things. I love spring…I go into mourning by late August because the summer is coming to an end. Three days before the end of our annual family vacations, I could already feel the dark cloud signaling the end of those precious moments. And now it's happening right here in our office. 

After spending 3 years with us, Melissa will begin a new career with rescue animals next week. She (and friendly dog Zeus) will be missed. 

Her husband and our son Matt, who is currently HFP President and CEO, and who has been with us for 11 years, will be gone by the end of the year. He, too, hopes to fulfill some dreams before it gets too late. It's the right thing to do. My dad would have been pleased to have me follow him in the grocery business. But, realizing that I had no interest in that field, he supported all of my efforts in another direction. Matt will be missed, but I wholeheartedly support his dreams for the future. 

The signs are clear for our Board of Directors: It won’t be long before HFP is no longer a “family business.” As the founder and original CEO, I’m still active and involved. But I’m also 85 years of age. Tempus fugit. 

A family affair is nice, but as the international agency Vistage puts it, there are also unique challenges. Says Vistage: …in order to be successful, business leaders must…overcome these challenges to avoid becoming one of the 70% of businesses that do not survive past the first generation. 

Prisoners, their needs and problems, come first here. Our directors are working on succession plans to ensure that HFP does not become one of the 70% that do not survive past the first generation. The days of the family business are numbered. Loving and helping the people behind bars must never end. They’re the ones who matter!


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