Family isn’t defined by blood (unless you’re from the fifteenth century).
From graduations to weddings to baby showers, we’re always showing up for our Silverbow fam. The miles we travel to stay in touch don’t matter. Plus, who doesn’t love those fancy airline points anyway?
Once upon a time, we were knees deep in dough. No, not the green kind of dough – bagel dough. Attached to our Inn was the Silverbow Bakery. And, just like our Inn, it was home to whoever walked through our doors.
And, one special person walked through our doors 20 years ago. His name is Joe.
Rather quickly, Joe became part of our wolf pack. Of course, it didn’t happen immediately, though…
“When I was in high school, I turned 16 and lived 2 streets away from SBI. I saw they had a job opening for a dishwasher. I had never been in the bagel shop before,” Joe confessed.
“I went in for an application and did an interview that day. I didn’t know what I was in for.”
A dishwasher position is quite the rude work world awakening for a teenager. From the moment Joe started, he was fully committed, even though his first shift wasn’t a walk in the park.
“The shift was 5 pm to 1 am. I went home to my mom in tears, dirty. I showed up the next day and cleaned up everything.”
We promise we didn’t mean to make him cry.
Flash-forward a year later, Joe’s hustle put him in Jill’s good graces. So much so that she handed over the manager’s pants.
He ran the Silverbow Bakery during its busiest summer, supporting everything and anything, from baking to catering.
Mind you, he was just 19 at the time.
“[Working at the Silverbow Bakery] taught me a lot about work ethic and working with other people that don’t have it. It taught me a lot about the challenges in life,” Joe told us. “The trust Jill put in me helped me become who I am.”
Hard work, trust, challenges…those are all things that go into the SBI family. Of course, there’s love, too. But, it’s when things get real that you become closer and closer to yourself.
The thing is – behind Joe’s bad-ass work ethic and sweet smile was a young man who put off college to stay in Juneau with his terminally ill mom. It’s something that still pulls on our heartstrings. He was a seriously impressive kid balancing so much while kids were off doing god knows what in college (no judgment there).
When Joe did head to college on the opposite side of the world (aka Florida), we weren’t worried one bit. The guy knew how to handle responsibilities. But, as we know, there are things in life even the coolest people can’t handle alone. During his first semester, his mother passed away.
While his little bagel family couldn’t be there, we made sure to arrive in spirit. “Jill sent cards and items from the bakery,” Joe told us. “Jill and Ken have been the closest to me beyond my immediate family.”
While Joe may have traded the west coast for the east coast, he was still our family. We will always have his back, no matter how many miles between us. “They’re family I know I could turn to in terms of anything – emotionally, financially, just talking out loud…,” Joe added.
Anything also included getting married. Just a few years after his mom passed away, Ken got a call from Joe asking him to officiate his wedding.
(Side note: Juneau makes for a killer wedding destination. We don’t have chapels like in Vegas, but we have much prettier things. You know like mountains, glaciers, and rooftops with hot tubs.)
Watching Joe evolve into such a brilliant grown-up, now with a wife and baby, is something we will forever be grateful to see. Our bonds make the headaches from running a small business worth every ounce of pain.
At the end of the day, it’s all about connection. We feel so grateful to hear Joe say that sharing his Silverbow story “is a tribute to how much they’ve done – given me opportunities to learn, to trust me, to help me grow.”
Even though he’s in Virginia now, we’ll always be there for Joe in any way we can. And this goes for every one of our Silverbow family members.
Cheers to Joe, his wife, and baby Nellie!