Julie-Ann Graves looks at life from an interesting point of view.

“Every day when we wake up, we wake up with a clean slate, and it’s up to us on how we want that canvas to look by the end of the day,” said CFO at the Vermont Foodbank, Julie-Ann Graves.

Graves said the will and drive to better herself drove her to where she is today. She’s the Chief Financial Officer at the Vermont Foodbank.

“I don’t want to dwell on this, but it has shaped who I am and I think it’s an important part of the story,” said Graves.

She recalled her parents divorcing when she was only nine years old and her mother remarrying.

“My mother moved back to her hometown of Barre, VT with four little girls,” said Graves. “She worked two jobs so we spent a lot of time with our grandparents and they were really the best two years of my childhood, but then two years later my mom remarried and it was bad. It was very volatile and dysfunctional.”

With troubles at home and difficulty in the classroom, Graves said she struggled with math. Algebra to be specific and it affected her.

“Being told by so many voices when you’re young that you can’t do anything and you won’t amount to anything and you won’t be anything,” said Graves. ” I remember thinking to myself at 12,13,14 years old this is wrong. This is not right.”

Her life changed when she was 18 years old. Se met her husband Garry and the two had three children.

Julie-Ann said once her kids were born they became her world, and she focused on keeping them safe. She helped launch the Plainfield swim program with a friend, who was a Red Cross certified swim instructor.

“When my children were small, I worked for about 15 years on for the Plainfield Rec Department and it was a voluntary position, but what happened was I almost drowned when I was four so I wanted my kids to learn to swim,” said Graves

After a failed bid for a town clerk in Twinfield, Graves’s life took a new direction. At the age of 42, she worked to get her college degree.

“I remember taking algebra, sitting in class, and feeling like I’m in a foreign language class. I was lost. I remember in the, in the, during the break, I went into the ladies’ room, and I just cried. I was like, who do I think I am?” said Graves. “I really wanted that college degree.”

Graves went from an algebra student to the CFO at the Vermont Foodbank.

“People are so intimated by finance, but it’s not scary, ok?” said Graves. “Remember I couldn’t do algebra and here I am the CFO of a 35 million dollar organization! So anybody can learn finances.”

Vermont Foodbank is the largest hunger-relief organization in the state where they distribute to people who are food insecure.

“We went from distributing 11.7 million pounds of food to over 19 million pounds of food and last year, we did 17 million pounds of food. There are no signs of it lighting up,” Graves said.

Another huge milestone for Julie-Ann is that she and her husband are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

“Everything we do in life sets us up for where we are supposed to be now,” said Graves.