“Yesterday’s Trophies Don’t Win Tomorrow’s Games.” -Tom Love

Dec 29, 2023 | Community, Donors

Jenny Love Meyer, Executive Vice President, Chief Culture Officer of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores.

Jenny Love Meyer,
Executive Vice President, Chief Culture Officer of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores.

Nearly 60 years ago, Tom and Judy Love leased an abandoned filling station in Watonga, Oklahoma. Little did they know this single purchase would spark an empire that now includes more than 600 stores operating in 42 states known throughout the country as Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. As the success of the Love’s franchise grew, the family looked for ways they could give back to the communities that supported them, creating a lasting impact on the community.

We sat down with Jenny Love Meyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Culture Officer of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, to discuss what it means to her family to support the community and the people who live here and how her family’s partnership with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is making that possible.

Q: Jenny, your parents, Tom and Judy Love, worked hard to grow their business into one of the most respected and largest companies in Oklahoma. What did they teach you about hard work as you were growing up?

A: They taught us a lot about hard work. When I look back, that was probably one of the biggest lessons that both my dad and mom really showed us. And it goes beyond what they talked about; it’s also how they lived. Dad’s hard work was one of the keys to him being successful. And mom’s hard work and tenacity is seen a lot in her community efforts, especially her willingness to take on capital campaigns.

Q: In 1999, the Love Family established the Love Family Affiliated Fund with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Why was OCCF chosen, and how has that partnership grown over the years?

A: It was decades ago when we thought about how we would scale our charitable giving dollars and be able to have a sustained funding mechanism so that we could grow it while also having that baseline foundation. We look to the outcomes, and the Community Foundation helped us enable that growth. The stewardship we saw and how the organization really helps administer funds was really the first thing we looked to, to be able to say this could really be a good partnership.

Q: The Love family has directed a number of their Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores locations to the fund with OCCF. The monthly lease income then generates cash that is later used for charitable donations. Can you tell us a little bit about the process?

A: The idea is essentially the sale-leaseback. Being able to donate the stores to the Community Foundation helps generate a rental income we can utilize to be able to make those charitable donations to other nonprofits. It’s been a great way to have that sustainable source.

Q: Your family’s given back so much to the community. Why is this important – giving back to the community? Why is it important to the family?

A: It really started with my parents. My dad always felt we needed to be involved with the community. We’ve now got over 640 locations, and being able to be part of the community was something he felt was important. My mom liked the JFK quote, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” This resonated with her, so she felt it’s important for us to be not only be a part of the community but also to give back and make the community better.

Q: On the wall behind you is one of your dad’s mottos, “Yesterday’s trophies don’t win tomorrow’s games” – what did he mean by that?

A: It’s a great quote that people talk about a lot. Really, it means you can’t reflect back on accomplishments of the past to help you win accomplishments of the future. It was his way of saying we cannot rest on our laurels. Every day, we need to be better as an organization and as a people.

Tom and Judy Love and the Love family, 2021.

Tom and Judy Love and the Love family, 2021.

Q: How can businesses best support our community?

A: There are always going to be needs or opportunities in each community, and the magic happens when businesses are able to recognize needs in partnership with nonprofits to really make things better and create opportunities for the people who live in the community.

Q: What are your hopes for the future when it comes to the role philanthropy plays in our own community?

A: I would just hope that we, the donors who have been active in the community, will continue to make things happen. There is a future with younger entrepreneurs, and as they grab the gavel and understand the importance of this, they will feed the pipeline of donors investing in the community. We really need those younger businesses to be able to do that well and in their own way.

2023 Annual Report

To see this story and more, view our 2023 Impact Report.