Like many other successful businesses, AlmaDiem began small--with a large dose of faith and little startup capital. What makes AlmaDiem's revolution unique is the string of miracles that weave a story backward through time beginning with owner Melanie Alexander and her grandmother on her mother’s side.
At age three, little blue-eyed, toe-headed Melanie had only ever heard her grandmother called by one name: “Mom.” This was, of course, the handle used by Melanie’s mother Gail Alexander, who, like all daughters, had called her mother “mom” her entire life. Melanie being her mother’s firstborn, no one had yet explained to her that there was a special name reserved for the mother of your mother: “Gramma.” So it was that Gramma Pohto began her career as a grandmother known simply as “Mom.”
By age four, Melanie had been successfully coaxed into calling her grandmother “Gramma” and began to receive a special gift given at the end of each visit to grandma’s house: A simple green apple, to symbolize health and prosperity. Thus was born a tradition that would span decades and one day come to define an inspired business founded on the idea of giving. But this was only the beginning of a grandmother’s magic…
As the years and leaves began to accumulate, Gail Alexander had a conversation with her sick mom one autumn day about the inevitability of death. Having been raised in a Catholic home, there was no doubt in the mind of mother or daughter concerning an eternal afterlife, but Gail made one point very clear to her aging mother: in the event of her mother’s passing she wanted a sign from beyond that all was well and that safe passage had been made. Gramma had promised she would appear clearly from beyond that Heaven was Grand and she was safe.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find…..” --Matthew 7:7
A crisp autumn day in October 2001, Ann Birak Pohto suddenly left the incarnate world, and in her place was left a great vacancy and accompanying sadness felt by all who had known her deep love, caring nature and innate magic. She had been a first-generation American born to Finnish and Hungarian parents, wife to a Pacific Theater Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy during WWII, mother to four gifted daughters and grandmother to seven healthy grandchildren raised on a diet of gourmet apples and a grandmother's love. But even after her passing, Grandma Pohto's presence continued to be felt by those who loved her most.
"I will not leave ye comfortless......." --John 14:18
Just a few months after Grandma Pohto's passing, Gail was driving down the same winding country road she had driven hundreds of times before between Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This was the way to Grandma and Grandpa Pohto’s house. As she was winding down the infamous and steep Key Springs Road with her window cracked but a small inch, a sign from above slipped in through the tiny crack in the window…it was a HUGE tulip poplar leaf. And if on cue, Gramma’s favorite song “What a Wonderful World” played on the radio. Gramma kept her promise. She had arrived safely on the other side. She had appeared as a leaf in the dead of winter that cold December. Now, in present day, Gail and Melanie’s family and friends see her appear in their lives as a leaf in divine, perfect timing show her blessing.
When Gramma passed, Gail received a monetary inheritance. She used the money on her home and to save for her own retirement. After all the money was divided there was $2000 left that Gail could not bring herself to spend. It felt special, like the last bit of Gramma’s legacy. She did not want to spend it on something frivolous. It needed to have meaning.
When AlmaDiem decided to launch, they did not have any financial startup. They needed $2000 to get their vision up and running, and didn’t know how they were going to find that startup. When Melanie shared this with her Mom, Gail’s eyes filled with tears. The amount that AlmaDiem needed was the exact amount left of Gramma’s money. She knew exactly was she was called to do.
AlmaDiem is a three-generation- possible company. From Gramma Pohto, to Gail, to Melanie it exists, and is here to spread the art of giving and possibilities to everyone it serves.
When the time came to choose a logo for the company founded on the idea of perfect health and helpful service there was never a question: Grandma Pohto’s legacy remains strong with us all in every delicious apple and in every poplar leaf.