Meeting Jan Costa, the “Meat Baron” of Florida Fresh Meats at the Haile Farmer’s Market in 2014 was unexpected, but fateful. My son, Avery, sold pickles for our friend, Margot’s business, at the market and happened to get the spot right next to Jan’s tent. Jan’s exuberant demeanor and generous wisdom spilled over and he provided Avery with sales tips. Next thing we knew, Jan directed his customers to pair the meat from his tent with the pickles. It was a win-win and sales were up for all! Jan was warm and kind, and when he heard about what I did at the CAC, he shared his story. Like many survivors, his was a story of being a “bad” kid, and was full of trauma. He said, “Oh my gosh! I could have used your help and maybe life wouldn’t have been so hard for me.” Only minutes later, he exclaimed, “What can I do for you at the CAC? If I provide meat at your events for free, you could make more money to save more kids!” Over a number of years, Jan provided meat for several events including the CACs signature events Gainesville Gone Austin, Memphis and New Orleans. Jan got so excited before these events and loved to attend. He was a great cheerleader for the CAC and for our family. He even gave my daughter, Tori, a job over the summer. Every Saturday morning, our dog, Wagner, would tell us it was time to go see “Mr. Jan” by jumping up and down like a maniac and barking like crazy. The car trips were full of whines and barks, and I could barely hold him when we got to the market.
Jan loved Wagner and always gave him way too many treats and would find a way to sneak a treat for the family in with Wagner’s bones. Every week, Jan updated me on his business, his family, and gave me advice about fundraising. Jan was a part of our every week for many years and we will miss his wonderful smile, hugs, lessons on how to “hustle”, and just him. I am so grateful for this wonderful, unexpected friendship.