During the years of covering conferences and seminars, I’ve consistently come across exhortations by motivational speakers about the need to slow down and “smell the roses.” As the impact and influence of the Internet radically accelerated life and workplace tempo, that advice began to look dated, a bit out of step with the times.
In addition to hearing the “smell the roses” adage, I’d add another phrase that similarly popped up during the same conferences and seminars: “Good works equate to good business.” That has somewhat morphed into a sustainability strategy, one that encompasses good corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship.
But as we all know, and I’ll use another cliché here, actions do speak louder than words. And individuals, whether they represent a company or themselves or both, are the ones that actually do the work.
At the most recent Western Candy Conference held last March at the La Quinta Resort in California, one of the panel discussions zeroed in on generosity, which happens to permeate the confectionery industry. As Peter Greer, president and ceo of HOPE International — a global faith-based microfinance organization — and panel moderator emphasized, “You never know the full impact of your generosity.” In regards to WCC participants, meaning the confectionery industry as a whole, he reaffirmed that “you are a community of givers.”
In giving this some thought, I came to the realization that perhaps we don’t give enough attention to those individuals in the industry who are, indeed, givers. My cynical friends out there — and no, they are not all members of the media, although I won’t share the percentage — will perhaps squawk about another “feel good” story.
Sadly, I don’t think we get enough of those today. As a result, I opted to find someone who epitomizes good works through his or her character and actions. That someone is Patrick Murnane, executive v.p. of Murnane Cos. 
Anyone who’s attended a WCC event during past years has undoubtedly met the bearded cappuccino junkie, a gregarious and charming man with a booming laugh. No doubt many of you have done business with his company. 
But unless you have broken bread with him, the back story about his ministry of good works would have escaped you. This Notre Dame alumnus — and please, don’t hold that against him — has tirelessly worked behind the scenes in personally helping the homeless for 15 years. 
His latest project involves being a member of the board for Hope Ranch International, a faith-based organization serving needy and impoverished families. I learned about this while having a welcome lunch with Patrick, the man having graciously accepted the invite to become a member of our select Kettle Committee.
After revealing the secret handshake and various other protocols involving Kettle Committee partnership, I began to quiz him as a means of getting to know him better. One thing led to another and I suddenly found myself accepting his invite to come and see what Hope Ranch International was really all about. 
As Patrick explained, the best way to get a feel for the organization and the people behind it would be to visit the “ranch.” One footnote, the ranch is in Montana, like in Big Sky country Montana, where there are bears, elk, deer, mountain lions, marmots, horses and various critters.
Yesterday, I came back from a wonderful two-and-half day visit to Roscoe, Mt., the closest town to Hope Ranch International and Matt and Amanda DeSarro, its founders. (Editor’s Note: Roscoe was named after the local postmaster’s favorite horse, by the way.)
What began as a means of helping at-risk youth by providing them an opportunity to experience the great outdoors through trail rides has expanded into an operation dedicated to supporting children in need in Columbia and Ethiopia as well.
And just to show you how committed  Matt and Amanda are to the cause, they have adopted five children (three from Ethiopia, one from Columbia and one from Montana) to raise alongside their own two children.
On Patrick’s end, he has become involved in a way that only he can, which is above and beyond expectations. From lending his wisdom and experience to running organizations to sharing pasture land and his home, the confectionery supplier has been a “giver.” And yes, he’s traveled to Ethiopia and Columbia as well to help spearhead specific projects.
But it’s not just Patrick. His family is intimately involved; Patrick’s daughters have been trail guides for Hope Ranch while Mary Ellen, his wife, has worked tirelessly with the DeSarros in helping them in any way possible. Kudos to all.
Nonetheless, this only represents the tip of the Beartooth peak (Beartooth Mountains are part of the local scenery). Look for the full story in our August issue. In the interim, let us all continue to be givers.