Friend of Children - Randy and Laurel Tucker, Arby's FMS Group, Inc.
The annual Arby’s dinner is a tradition many of the youth in our residential program really look forward to. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s they head over to the Arby’s just a few miles south of here. It’s a nice opportunity to leave campus for a while and enjoy a special treat.
There isn’t a visible red carpet rolled out for our kids when they arrive, but they receive the best service ever! It’s apparent the Arby’s team working this night look forward to this event as much as our kids do!
Even before the night of the big dinner, our kids get to fill out their menu requests ahead of time…choosing from roast beef, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, curly fries, potato cakes...and, oh yeah; their choice of a chocolate, vanilla or mint chocolate shake!
Then, when the youth arrive, piping hot appetizers of mozzarella sticks and onion rings are ready to eat! And, if that’s not enough, cake is served after the meal, again graciously provided by Arby’s.
So, imagine our look of embarrassment when Cunningham staff overheard one of our kids, Alec, having a meltdown about his sandwich because it wasn’t prepared the way he wanted it.
But, the owner of this particular Arby’s franchise, Randy Tucker, was there to take care of Alec and offered to remake his sandwich to his specifications! Randy is awesome, isn’t he? The Arby’s culture is to provide excellent customer service, and that means that every customer, deserves to be treated like the most important customer. Because they are. And you can see that it starts at the top.
Randy began working for Bill Myers back in 1974, as an assistant manager in one of the Danville restaurants and worked his way up the through the system. He eventually became the director of operations, then vice president and in 2011 president of Franchise Management Systems (FMS Inc.) Laurel worked for Arby’s corporate as a Field Marketing Director when she met Randy. They got married in 1997. As Bill was looking to sell the company, he knew that if he sold his operation to another existing franchisee, they would close the office and the support staff would be let go. He offered Randy and Laurel the opportunity to purchase FMS and continue his legacy and protect his employees. In 2016, they bought the 16 restaurant operation and formed FMS Group in Bill’s honor.
Bill Myers and FMS, Inc had long supported the Festival of Quilts through an annual sponsorship for many years. When FMS Group became involved, Laurel had the idea that in addition to their Presenting Sponsorship, they could use their restaurants as a means to raise funds and awareness for the Festival and Cunningham’s mission.
In 2015 they developed the “Give Hope” campaign that would solicit donations from their customers in exchange for a coupon. They also printed and displayed promotional materials about Cunningham Children’s Home and the Festival of Quilts. In the month of March it’s so neat to see a national franchisee support a local non profit and hear, “Would you like to donate $1 to Cunningham Children’s Home?” This community responded so generously! Each year more than $8000 in donations have been collected!
In addition to the Festival of Quilts sponsorship, Randy and Laurel also support Cunningham kids through their sponsorship at the Kendall Gill Golf Outing each summer.
Randy and Laurel feel that it is important to serve the communities in which they operate. Their life’s work is more than “We have the Meats!” They truly believe that the gifts God gives each of us-resources, talent, time- are gifts to be shared in His service. As you know, each year, Cunningham’s Board and agency staff choose individuals who have gone above and beyond to help our kids over the years.
Outstanding Alumni - Jack Burns
Jack Burns was an exceptional man who loved with his whole heart. During his 91 years of life, he graciously and humbly served others by giving generously of himself to support them. He was a devoted husband to his wife Marilyn; a dedicated father to Connie and Steven and his grandchildren; and a highly respected member of the community - giving back his love of music and helping those who needed a hand up. He served his country in World War Two and for 35 years, cared for the workers at Caterpillar in his role of Personnel Manager. He is so deserving of recognition for a life well-lived. It’s with great pleasure that we recognize the late Jack Burns with the Cunningham Children’s Home Outstanding Alumni Award.
Earlier this year, Jack fell ill and passed away suddenly. Our Board and staff had already chosen him for this award and how I wish I had the foresight to share this news with him then. We are grateful to have his daughter, Connie Boyle; his son, Steven Burns; and his grandson John here with us today. I’m certain he’s smiling down on us now with great humility.
Five-and-a-half-year-old Jackie Dean Burns along with his older sister Maryn (Mare-in) Elizabeth came to live at Cunningham Children’s Home on October 22, 1932. Jack’s father had left the family and a year later his mother passed away. Aunts, uncles and siblings tried to help, but it was difficult to provide for five kids during the rough years of the 1930’s. It was their older brother Donald who arranged for them to be placed here and who supported them financially during their stay.
At Cunningham, Jack felt at home. He said, “Cunningham provided me with the six most stable years of my childhood. I truly enjoyed my time there.” Cunningham taught him values and a strong work ethic. He remembered completing daily chores such as cleaning out the barn that stood on campus and spiritual life programming that gave him the framework of his faith that was so important to him.
Jack left the Cunningham at the age of 11 to live with his brother Donald. In those days, Cunningham only allowed boys to stay until the age of 12. Girls could stay until they finished high school, but the boys went to Chaddock Boys School in Quincy, another Methodist Home. Although we don’t know this as a fact, it appears that Donald wanted to keep Maryn and Jack together so on July 16, 1938 he brought his two siblings back home to Tremont where Jack would grow into the caring, capable man that we all knew, respected, and loved.
In 1995, Jack returned for Cunningham’s 100th Anniversary Homecoming. After attending the alumni event, reuniting with other kids who had lived at Cunningham, and seeing the positive impact on their lives, Jack wanted to give back. That was just his way. With great gratitude and humility, he served on Cunningham’s Board of Directors for several years. He also championed our Guardian Parent Giving Program telling others, “Knowing I could make a difference in a child’s life means a lot to me.”
And Jack visited us as often as he could, attending Homecoming events, Kendall Gill Golf Outings, and Quilt Festivals. As a matter of fact, thanks to his daughter Connie, Jack had the opportunity to attend the Festival of Quilts in April, touring his childhood home once again. I’ll always remember his kind demeanor and warm smile. He loved well.