How does a guy who grew up in Owings Mills, majored in kinesiology at the University of Maryland and works full time as a loan officer and part time for the Washington Nationals end up raising money for hungry kids by eating asparagus every day?
Well, if you talk to Josh Pokrywka even for a few minutes, it all makes perfect sense.
Pokrywka, 24, who graduated from Owings Mills High School and had his bar mitzvah at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, now lives in Federal Hill and works as a loan originator at Freedom Mortgage Corp. in Columbia, Md. He heads down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., a couple days a week to work as a clubhouse attendant. Last summer, before his full-time loan-officer gig, he was able to work more hours with the Nationals, spending February and March at spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla.
An admitted sports “junkie,” Pokrywka said what time he has left in between work is devoted to “working out, playing basketball or watching sports with my friends.”
But recently he picked up another hobby. Eating asparagus. “It’s kind of a long story,” he said.
A few months ago, Pokrywka wanted to start eating healthier. Asparagus being one of his favorite foods, he soon realized he’d been eating it every day and decided, just for the fun of it, to see how long he could keep up the streak. He started shooting a video of himself, sometimes with friends, family or coworkers, eating it every day and began posting the clips on Snapchat.
“Everybody who knows me knows I like to do random things and share them online, to be funny, entertain people and make people laugh,” he said. But about a month in, things got serious.
How did the Asparagus Challenge go from a lark to something bigger?
One of my friends, Zach Greenberg, said he wanted to make a montage of all the videos. He thought it’d be cool to make the montage and then a Facebook or Instagram page so people could tune in and follow it, so it would be more organized. He was better with that tech stuff, I’m just kind of providing some sort of entertainment.
How did the fundraising for No Kid Hungry come about?
When I moved to Baltimore two months ago, I began to notice a lot of homeless people or people begging for money and food. I wanted to do something. [Zach and I] decided together this would be a cool opportunity to raise awareness of and raise money for something to help out the community.
We were looking at a lot of [causes]; anything would be good to raise money for. But when I stumbled across No Kid Hungry I thought it was good because it was food related, and there would be some sort of connection there. And then I read [that] one in six children don’t get the food they need [and that] 13 million kids are going hungry every day in the U.S. It reminded me that I was very fortunate and blessed with what my parents gave me. I had food on the table every night; I was very lucky growing up. I thought it would be a good thing to raise money for the kids who are less fortunate, who weren’t as lucky as I am.
What’s the goal?
Realistically, when we launched the fundraiser [in early September], I set the goal at $1,000 to pick a number, but my realistic expectations were that maybe my family members, relatives and close friends would donate. I was hoping even a couple hundred bucks. Anything’s good, obviously. Anything is a success. My bosses [in Columbia] love it, and they’re going to pitch [the challenge] to our head boss, so it could open up some more. With the Nationals too, I’ve been trying to use some of my connections there, because obviously, that’s a big platform. So, I think I have decent connections. I’m trying to make an actual difference. It’s going better than I thought so far. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I want to raise a lot more money.
To donate to the Asparagus Challenge, go to facebook.com/donate/314197782376877.