Rick Young – A True Hunger Hero

For the last 15 years, Rick Young has been a reliable, passionate collaborator in our work to solve hunger in Southeast Michigan. The owner of Rick Young Insurance in Rochester Hills, Rick puts community involvement at the heart of his company’s – and his life’s – mission.

“I like to help people. It’s as simple as that,” Rick says.

Rick’s passion for philanthropy began during his time at Michigan State University, where he became heavily involved in the annual dance marathon to raise funds for multiple sclerosis. His innovative ideas to collaborate with local businesses produced record turnout and funds raised. After college, Rick spent many years learning from, and then leading, the Michigan Jaycees, serving as president in the mid-1980s.

Rick’s career has grown alongside his community involvement, and giving back to his beloved neighbors in Southeast Michigan has remained at the heart of his business. Recently, he established The Grateful Giving Foundation to expand his philanthropic efforts. He envisions the foundation will serve as a point of synergy for people experiencing hunger, housing insecurity, employment needs and more.

“In business – and in life, our philosophy is to go above and beyond,” says Rick. “Many families are struggling because of the economy, and we want to provide those families with more than just insurance.”

One extraordinary way Rick has supported Gleaners over the last 15 years is by sponsoring the “Mountain of Food” incentive prizes for local schools participating in our Hunger Heroes food and fund drives. Rick had the idea to make these drives a competition, where the top schools earn cash prizes, donated by Rick Young Insurance. The program has evolved and expanded through the years, but now the first place school earns $2500, the second place school receives $1500 and the third place school receives $1000 – with no caveats on how it must be spent. Schools can fund special needs and extra projects that may not have otherwise been possible.

Over the years, the Mountain of Food competition has netted over 630,000 cans of food and more than $275,000 donated by local students. Last year alone, students raised more than $50,000 and collected more than 50,000 cans of food.

While the donated food and dollars raised are important, what excites Rick most is the opportunity to show a new generation how good it feels to give back to their community. “I really want to motivate these kids to think about what they can do for charities. Giving back to others feels good – and it helps students feel good about themselves. My goal is to have students that, after they graduate, continue to do good in their communities.”