Food bank director helps other longing for change

By Peg Sheldrick

Lincoln Journal Star

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS MARCH 24-25 - In this Feb. 24, 2012 photo, Scott Young executive director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, poses inside their warehouse in Lincoln, Neb.

The Journal-Star, Patrick Breen) LOCAL TV OUT; KOLN-TV OUT; KGIN-TV OUT; KLKN-TV OUT, Associated Press

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Scott Young, executive director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, has a framed poster on his office wall that celebrates "CHANGE" in big, bold letters.

"Trying to gain some comfort with change is really important," Young said. He noted that some deal with it, while others resist. But change is going to happen. Life can change radically in just 24 hours. Everything is in constant change. Change can be positive.

Young has a firsthand acquaintance with rapid, radical change. In 2001, he reinvented himself, going from a popular radio personality to the administrator of an evolving, expanding nonprofit responsible for feeding the hungry. And he made the transformation in the public eye.

"I appreciate that I was able to make a change like that and have people know it," Young said. The big public change was positive -- not only for Young but for the people watching.

"People say, 'I wish I could do that,'" he said. "People come out and ask how to do this."

Young is happy to share his experience with others to help them turn their own wishes into actions.

He looks back at an early contact he had with a person longing for change and wishes he had been more helpful then. Through the years, Young has had many conversations about finding new paths. One man came out to visit with Young about changing careers and wound up going from Food Bank volunteer to being on the staff.

It was Young's own desire for change that led him away from the broadcast booth, back to school and into the world of food bankers.

"I probably didn't worry enough about it," admitted Young. "That's an asset . misplaced confidence.. In some areas I have lots of self-confidence.. I just always assumed I'd be successful."

Young was born and raised in Lincoln. Before launching his broadcasting career, he was "a lazy student," by his own definition, for a few semesters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then for about two years at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

He left school to work radio gigs in Lincoln and Omaha as well as at stations in Laramie, Wyo., and Casa Grande, Ariz. Eventually, he returned to Lincoln, signed on at KFOR and stayed there for the next three decades.

By the time Young reached his mid-40s, radio had become more habit than passion for him. His wife, JoAnne, had been encouraging him to finish his college degree. Working full time, it seemed impossible to go back. But in 1997, Young re-enrolled at Wesleyan as a nontraditional student majoring in communications.

In 2001, Young completed the degree he had started back in the 1970s. At that point, he had worked at KFOR for 28 years. He estimates he did 28,000 hours of radio during his broadcast career. "That's a lot," he said. He was ready to move on.

"I didn't become bitter or have to get shoved out the door," Young said. He loved radio the day he started and the day he left. "I know some (broadcasters) have struggled with life after radio . (but) I am content," he stated. "One of my things is I know when enough is enough."

Young was interested in working in the nonprofit world, and he learned that the Food Bank of Lincoln was initiating a search for a new executive director. With his newly won degree in hand, Young decided to pursue the job.

He applied in May 2001. The final decision was made in August. Young said it had come down to a choice between him and a food bank veteran from Missouri.

"I had the least qualifications of anybody who applied," Young said. "(But) I brought community credibility to it.. I think they might have overrated that a little bit.. I'm sure the food banker dazzled with all he knew about food-banking."

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