By setting clear boundaries, one Denver-area dad is able to successfully balance his work life with that of his at home. Zachary Kellerman is the Nutrition Network Operations Supervisor for Food Bank of the Rockies and handles logistics, warehousing, and heads up the Totes of Hope® Program, which was created in 2006 to assist school-age children and their families with nutritious, kid-friendly food to sustain them over the weekend when school is not in session.
“Every Friday, children take home a tote or backpack filled with eight to nine pounds of nutritious food items to feed them and their families,” said Kellerman. “For many of these children, the totes are their main source of food on Saturday and Sunday. There is no fee assessed to the member agencies such as schools, recreation centers, and churches for participation in this program.”
Last year, Food Bank of the Rockies provided more than 230,000 totes to hungry children.
Kellerman said that without volunteers to help on a weekly basis to bulk pack totes at the food bank, it would be extremely difficult to achieve the same results.
“I think it’s so important to volunteer because it’s a great way to give back to the community, and I hope to instill those values in my children. It often feels better to help someone else than it does to help oneself.”
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
Kellerman is married with two children, a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter. His wife works part-time at the University of Denver and he works four 10-hour days per week. As a result, his wife is with the children on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Kellerman has Monday’s off and works Tuesday through Friday. On Thursdays, the children go to a neighborhood care-taker for the day.
On weekends, the entire family is together and spends time playing at the park, having picnics, and taking short hikes. They have park passes, which lets them occasionally venture out to places Cherry Creek Park and Golden Gate Canyon, and the family hopes to do more of that in the future as the children get older.
“I think it’s crucial to set firm boundaries, which means, when my wife and I are home, we are completely engaged with our children and each other and are present in the moment both physically and mentally,” he said. “That means when we’re home, we try to turn off work as much as possible. It also helps that we both have flexible schedules.”
Challenges at Work and at Home
Kellerman’s work challenges are mostly logistical and occur on a day-to-day basis. He usually troubleshoots problems as they arise, and at times it can be a matter of juggling various tasks at a time.
“It really depends on the day, as sometimes we have slow weeks where we get a lot of work done, and then there are times like now when we’re getting ready for a different feeding program,” added Kellerman. “Fortunately, I work with a great team that’s gracious and understanding. In addition, our highly approachable executives energize us daily and it’s a positive work environment.”
What’s extremely rewarding for Kellerman is that he gets to visit sites to ensure compliance with the programs, and in doing so, can chat with kids and their parents.
“The children and their parents are thankful and gracious, which of course is a great feeling to have,” he said.
At home, the challenges he faces are pretty typical to those raising young children. To manage the natural stresses of work and home life, Kellerman makes the time to do the activities he enjoys. A few times per month he gets together with his buddies to play golf and he likes tinkering in his garage, working on various projects and fixing things.
“While work defines a part of me, it’s certainly not the entire picture,” said Kellerman. “It really helps me to be around my family to remain grounded, stable, and happy. I can be productive at work and still be there for my wife and kids.”
When asked what advice he would give to other dads in terms of managing a healthy work/life balance, he said that the most important thing is to be able to put work issues down, to be fully engaged and in the moment.
“If we aren’t doing that, our children will notice, and we want to prepare them to thrive in the same way we do.”
For information on volunteering opportunities, visit Food Bank of the Rockies.