One person, one voice can make all the difference. Mike Givens, my dear friend and dedicated Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption board member was that person – that voice. Yesterday we lost him to a horrible illness – much too early – but in the 14 years that I knew him, he made an impact on foster care adoption that far exceeded the work of hundreds, and what most could achieve only in a lifetime that was much longer than his 58 short years.
If you knew Mike, you knew that he was gentle, but forcefully protective of the causes and people he loved. If you were a friend of Mike’s, you knew he was always there for you no matter what else was going on in his life. If you worked with Mike, you knew that he indefatigably looked for ways to do more, to do better, to rise above business as usual.
For 14 years, we were honored to have Mike, one of the largest franchise owners in the Wendy’s system, as a member of the board of trustees of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. About once each quarter I would see the 612 area code pop up on my phone, and I knew it was Mike checking in. “What do you need?” was always the first thing he asked, “How can I help?” And then he always had an idea for how we could help more children.
His annual golf tournament generated more than $10,000,000 for the Foundation, allowing us to actively support Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and the North American Council on Adoptable Children in the Minneapolis area, as well as many other programs and efforts of the Foundation. He used his restaurants as a platform to both raise funds and awareness for this cause. He leveraged his natural leadership skills to engage many more in the conversation of foster care adoption.
One of his proudest moments was receiving the Angels in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. There was no one that year more deserving.
I will miss Mike’s unconditional kindness, his brilliant business mind and his passion for the children we serve. Mike always shared that he started his work in foster care adoption because Dave Thomas asked him to. I believe he stayed with the Foundation because he learned that the children we serve needed his voice, his protection, his love.
We lost a sweet soul yesterday. Mike Givens’ legacy at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption continues on through the lives of hundreds of children who now have homes, who now know love, and whose lives have been forever changed through his dedication and generosity. Yes, one person, one voice can make all the difference. May we each strive to follow his example.