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.
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 email@example.com)