D’Agostino Head Answers Senior Income Crisis

By Bob James

These are trying times. No, more than ever before, they are frightening times. They are times when fear emanates from shadows we only dreamt existed before. It is a global, local, and personal fear that is amplified by political rhetoric and charged with singular agendas. And it is a kind of fear that further alienates the disenfranchised and forgotten. We feel alone and are reaching out for someone, something, some place to make us feel like we are a part of something greater. Indeed, these are times that demand unity, not division.

As long as “societies” have existed, the social formula has been the same. As pioneers explored and settled this great land, they chose a spot, then began building their town. At the center was the church, to nourish the soul. The church also served as the school, to nourish the mind. Next came the general store, to nourish the body. Then, through progress, came doctors and dentists, tinkers and tailors, smiths and specialists to tend to those bodies, minds and souls. Each of these entities worked together as the community grew and prospered. Each played its role in ensuring that the Village, and each of its members, exercised their privilege to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This basic formula really has not changed very much over time. What has changed is largely influenced by science, technology and ingenuity, which has served to expand our choices and reduced the constraints of physical geography. However, our communities are at risk of increasing “dehumanization” that further disenfranchises “the many.” Division among nationalities, religions, genders, ethnicities, are prevalent and toxic. Perhaps the most alarming trend toward disenfranchisement is between generations. At risk is the bond between the young and the aging that guarantees the passage of knowledge, wisdom and humanity.

It is a risk that cannot be allowed.

To ensure change in this potential erosion of our community, the core entities must step forward and refine, not “what they do,” but “how they do it.” The church and school must work together with the general store and others to reunite the citizens of the Village. No longer is it acceptable for the church, the school, and the grocer to operate in a vacuum, serving their singular interests more than the interests of the whole. Whatever their individual agendas, all entities exist in a Village to serve the interests of that Village before themselves.

D’Agostino Supermarkets has served as a source to nourish the body and the Village for generations. In most of our neighborhoods, it is normal to see neighbors through every stage of life. As a union shop, the company has enjoyed the privilege of being a part of the community, not only as a place to shop and do business, but as a place to work, as well. Through the years, this role has not changed. But change is necessary. Now is the time to change how the local grocer plays its part in nourishing the person it calls neighbor. Now is the time for the local grocer to reconnect with the people—particularly the aging—as a way to help the Village thrive. Now is the time for the local grocer to shed its institutional cloak and actively address the unique needs of its community. To help the person, we strengthen the community. To strengthen the community, we strengthen the state, the country, the world.

It is time to more actively address the economic, physical and emotional challenges our aging neighbors face by providing the goods they need more affordably, by making it easier to shop for those goods, by showing them that they are still vital members of the community, and by promoting inter-generational unity. Now is the time for each of the core entities in the Village to work more closely for the sake of the whole. Now is the time to find new and better ways to allow everyone to be a more vital part of something greater.

John Donne famously wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Every entity in the community must hear the bell and answer its toll. The local grocer must continuously seek ways to better humanize the lives of our neighbors. Now. D’Agostino Supermarkets is committed to answering that bell.

Bob James: A supermarket head listens to his senior customers.
Bob James: A supermarket head listens to his senior customers.

James is President and Chief Operating Officer of D’Agostino Supermarkets. From humble beginnings, Bob was born and raised in Germany and Italy for the first 15 years of his life before moving to the U.S. After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees, Bob has had the privilege of entering the business world with a vision of commercial growth closely tied to societal growth.

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