Missoula Food Bank executive director Aaron Brock will always think of Montana both as his home, and the place that brought his family together.
Although he was born in Michigan, Brock moved to Bozeman when he was very young, growing up “at the end of a gravel road in the country.” He was homeschooled through the seventh grade, before attending a Catholic school so he could fulfill his dream of playing basketball.
Brock’s family moved and he went to high school in Great Falls, before attending Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Melanie.
When she finished two years behind him in 2002, Brock tried to get her to come west to go to graduate school.
“I was working in Twin Falls as a reporter and the woman I loved was on the other side of the country,” he said.
Melanie, who owns Brock Consulting and is also featured in this year’s “20 Under 40,” called her husband an “optimistic, get-things-done type of guy.”
“Sometimes, I think if I wasn’t around he would donate his entire paycheck to charity,” Melanie said.
One of the small things that has always impressed her, she said, was that for years, Brock has been a regular platelet donor, even going so far as to put it on his calendar when he is able to go in again.
The Brocks said being a working couple and having kids takes discipline and planning.
“If she has a meeting Wednesday night, I know I have to prioritize being a parent,” Aaron said. “I have two daughters. They are a lot of fun, there’s a lot of pink in my house. Every once in a while, I get my toenails painted.”
It also means he has put a lot of emphasis on having a strong work-life balance.
“I love my job, but it doesn't mean I have to be here all the time. When I leave work, I really leave work,” Brock said.
In 2003, they moved to Missoula, and Brock began working at the Missoula Food Bank. He stayed until 2008, when he left for jobs with Missoula Aging Services and then the Missoula YMCA. Brock said even when he first left the food bank, he knew he eventually wanted to come back.
“I knew when this job would open, I wanted to come back,” he said.
He credited his time at the YMCA with helping him to develop the skills he needed to be effective in his current position with the food bank, where he was hired back as executive director in 2014.
“How many people have their master plan work out just like they wanted?” said Brock, who also sits on the board of directors of Garden City Harvest.
Currently, the food bank is in the start of a relocation process, building a new facility at the corner of Wyoming and North Catlin streets, which will more than double the current operating space of around 8,000 square feet. The food bank plans to be in the new location by 2016.
“It will be the biggest thing the Missoula Food Bank has ever done,” Brock said.