Unsung Hero #12

I’d never heard of Brooks Sumberg.

I don’t know how I missed him. Sure, he’s low-key. But boy, has he done plenty.

In 2008, the retired Westport businessman founded Harvest Now. He wanted to encourage local organizations like correctional facilities, religious institutions and schools to fight hunger and improve health by planting, growing and donating food from their own grounds to local shelters and food banks.

The Fairfield County project quickly expanded to 18 states. Harvest Now has donated over 300,000 pounds of fresh produce grown by its partners —including 143,000 pounds last year alone.

Brooks Sumberg

Today, Harvest Now primarily partners with correctional facilities. They develop grow-to-donate programs, while providing fresh food for their own cafeterias. Inmates form healthy habits, train for job opportunities, and find pride and therapeutic outlet through gardening.

In addition to Harvest Now, Sumberg has been involved with re-entry programming through Family ReEntry. The Connecticut organization sponsors classes for parolees on job seeking and interviewing skills.

He also founded the Connecticut Bike Project. It’s brought over 3,000 bicycles to needy children, parolees, and new immigrants in and around Bridgeport. Catholic Charities honored Brooks with the St. Augustine Medal for his work with the group.

In Westport, he’s been quite helpful to the Gillespie Center.

Sumberg graduated from Kent State University in 1972, with a degree in history. Last year, he received its Distinguished Citizen Award. Before beginning his business career, he spent 2 years with the Peace Corps in Tunisia, building and renovating wells.

I do not know Brooks Sumberg. But I do know this: He’s exactly what one of Westport’s Unsung Heroes should be.

(Hat tip: Ted Horowitz. To nominate an unsung hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

14 responses to “Unsung Hero #12

  1. I have been a personal friend of Brooks for 35 years. He has been my unsung hero all along. Always involved with charities that make a difference with a different venue to help contribute to people lives. It would be so helpful if individuals can contribute to his charity.
    Brooks has taken it upon himself to support the projects, but this has now grown so much and needs the support of people.
    Dan can you mention this?
    I am one of your biggest fans. Love 06880.

  2. Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

    This is astounding and wonderful. Thank you Brooks for your caring heart and tenaciousness. I do not say the following to take away from what Brooks has done but to add to it. An organization does not need a large piece of property to grow enough food to make a significant contribution. On a relatively small plot of land our church has grown food, organically, and donated astonishing amounts of food to a local food bank. Look around your location and see where your group or company can make a difference. Thank you again Brooks and thank you Dan and 06880 for the wonderful efforts you highlight.

    • You are right, but Brooks purchases all the seeds for these gardens.He also visits the sites to make certain everything is done correctly.

  3. Andrew Landau

    known him for over 50 years he has always been the MAN and my best friend

  4. This award is well deserved. Excellent job, Dan. I was Brooks’ neighbor for many years when I lived in Westport. Mary Condon

  5. I worked with Brooks for many years at IHA, now Homes With Hope. He was always ready and willing to do what was needed, either repairs at the Gillespie Center or food for dinner. Great choice for an unsung hero!

  6. I know Brooks and he is truly a great giver!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Julie Shapiro

    I know Brooks and he is truly a “great giver” along with his wife Robbie who donated fabrics from her business to refugees in Bridgeport who use them to make goods to sell. Nice family.

  8. Julie Shapiro

    Dan you should do a piece on Bill Evans

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. I’m certain that Brooks would have already thanked everyone who posted their thoughtful comments – because that’s the kind of guy he is. But he’s out-of-town, touring several “correctional facilities” that are harvesting their gardens – because that’s also the kind of unsung hero he is.

  10. Congratulations Brooks, a long-time supporter of Homes with Hope – always in an unsung way!

  11. Joseph J. Kent

    Brooks we have known you for such a long time even your children call my wife” Mummy Linda.” Brooks you have helped so many people that now owe you big time. However you never had to call upon these fortunate people.The work you have done for people of every race,creed and colour needs to no recognized and honored. I would consider it to be an honor when you are finally nominated for your contribution to your fellow man. In love ang friendship Linda and Joe Sincerely.