Nate and I have met some incredible people along our journey and most of the time we are sharing a story about how we entered their lives with the hope to make it just slightly better if only for a moment. In a very special case Nate and I happened to be on the receiving end of such generosity.
Shannon Stichter is the co-owner of Pitas in Paradise in Crested Butte, Colorado, and has been an incredible inspiration to both Nate and I on both Project Wildness trips. Her ability to maintain a positive attitude in every situation with everybody she meets is nothing short of saint-like. At Pitas in Paradise Shannon doesn’t have employees – she has family. The first time we met Shannon she was telling us how Pitas had just hired a number of new “family members” and that most of them were young, inexperienced individuals. With what seemed like a slightly frustrated look Shannon described the process of training them in by saying, “It is just so… FUN!” Nate and I both told her we expected a different answer, but that statement sums Shannon up perfectly. She sees every challenge as an opportunity and finds good in all situations and all people.
The family members at Pitas in Paradise follow Shannon’s lead and are equally incredible individuals. Everyone seems unbelievably happy and in a good mood while at work; greeting customers with a smile and making small chat with strangers like they were longtime friends. Every time I walked by the kitchen I could hear a veritable party as the kitchen staff prepped food to the beat of top 40 hits. I’ve spent countless hours studying employee satisfaction and smarter people have dedicated their entire lives to the study of what Shannon and her team accomplish every single day.
Before leaving we stopped into Pitas in Paradise only to find Shannon and her crew had left us an envelope. The front had a sticker on it that read “I Believe” with a picture of Bigfoot. It was comical, but also representative of Pita’s viewpoint on Project Wildness. The back of the envelope had a drawing of a heart with angel wings and the words “Think Happy, Be Happy”. Inside we found a check written out to Project Wildness from Pitas in Paradise “For magical random acts of kindness”.
I can’t properly express with words the gratitude and joy Nate and I get by knowing Shannon and everyone at Pitas in Paradise. They have opened their arms and hearts to us showing unwavering support and excitement for Project Wildness. Whether they are greeting us in the streets of Crested Butte, chatting us up at local pubs, or making us our favorite gyros they leave a lasting impact on Nate and I that we won’t soon forget.
To Shannon and everyone at Pitas in Paradise… Keep doing good. You are all such incredible people with beautiful attitudes and amazing stories. We may be traveling around the country, sometimes thousands of miles away, but Project Wildness is never far from Pitas in heart and mind. Thank you, everyone, for all you do!
Think happy. Be happy. #ProjectWildness