Living the Dream to Leaving the Dream: How a Successful Local Hedgefund Trader Left Wall Street to Help Those in Need

first_img Community News Top of the News Sam Polk isn’t a guy you hear about everyday. By age 30 he was a senior trader for a successful hedge-fund company on Wall Street and was living the fantasy of the glitz and glamour lifestyle he always dreamed of as a poor kid growing up in Glendale. After a great sense of pressure and personal emptiness that flooded his conscience from profiting during the economic crisis of 2008, Polk decided to start fresh and give back to people who need it most.He stopped by Innovate Pasadena’s Friday Coffee Meetup to provide some insight about what defines success and his mission to address health inequality in Los Angeles.“I started to have a sense about this industry that I was a part of,” said Polk. “My definition of success up until that point was about pulling all of this money and power to me and me alone. I began to understand that something was missing in my life,” said Polk.Polk grew up in an unstable and volatile household that left him to dream big and achieve his biggest dreams that mostly consisted of wealth.“At a very early age my overriding goal in life was to be rich and successful,” said Polk. “I nurtured this fantasy of what it would be like to be rich and it happened.It was only a matter of time until Polk was questioning his life path, despite bringing in a $3.6 million bonus.“Wall Street was this world that I felt like I could only imagine before seeing it. I loved the intensity and camaraderie. By time I was in my mid twenties I was living a spectacular life, but I had this moment where I just felt empty even though my life looked like what I fantasized when I was a kid,” said Polk.Polk eventually left his profitable Wall Street job and cashed out of the high life to invest in a meaningful new future in Los Angeles in search of fulfillment.He was moved by his encounter with the reputable work of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that serves high-risk, formerly gang involved men and women with free services, programs and operates several social enterprises that serve as job training sites.“Their work was about the equal value of every life. Where my life was about clawing my way to the top, their’s was to reach down below them to lift up the people that needed the most help. That was something closer to what I wanted to do than become a billionaire hedge-fund guy,” said Polk.Polk eventually founded Groceryships, a non-profit that provides a comprehensive program of nutrition education and emotional support, along with scholarships for groceries to empower families to increase health by incorporating more healthful foods into their diets.Groceryships initially served families in South Central Los Angeles in areas referred to as food deserts that have a high volume of fast food options and very little fresh food. This ideas was inspired by Polk’s family’s history dealing with health issues that were linked to nutrition and wellness.“It was the beginning of something really special,” said Polk.The success of Groceryships sparked a new for-profit endeavor called Everytable which aims to make daily packed, fresh food available for everyone and is priced according to the neighborhoods. Ultimately the food is healthy and more affordable than traditional options.“We built our menu with the families in the communities that we are trying to serve,” said Polk.Everytable has store locations in South L.A. and is opening one in downtown L.A. soon. Polk plans to expand stores all over the southland to bring fresh food at affordable prices for people on the go.For more information, visit www.everytable.com and www.groceryships.org. 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