Generations of Support Make A Lasting Impact
Larry Stuckey and his sister Norma Fish of Stryker, Ohio have been involved in Growing Hope Globally since the early days. Larry recalls helping founders Vernon and Carol Sloan bag corn to send overseas before they realized that selling a crop locally and using the funds to support agricultural development around the world was a more sustainable option.
When Growing Hope Globally was born, the siblings saw the merits of this way of operating, and quickly decided to get involved by contributing the family farm where they grew up for a Growing Project. A local farmer, Rusty Goebel, agreed to farm the land. A variety of local churches and agribusinesses have contributed to the project over the years too. Norma’s husband, Marvin Fish, kept the books for the project and when he recently passed away, Rusty Goebel and his wife Sue took over that aspect of the project as well.
A 2012 trip to visit Growing Hope Globally programs in Africa locked in Larry Stuckey’s support for life. His wife Phyllis had recently passed away and he was hesitant to go at first, but he is certainly glad he did! Ten years later, he still speaks passionately about the impact he saw in the lives of the people they visited.
The trip made a different kind of impact in his life too. Bev Abma, who had led the trip, was retiring from the Growing Hope staff, and those who knew her were invited to put together a scrapbook page with their photos to contribute to her memory book. Larry wasn’t much of a scrapbooker so he initially ignored the invitation. But another recently-widowed Growing Hope Globally supporter, Shirley Nofziger, offered to help him put the page together and wanted to hear more about his visit. One thing led to another and Shirley and Larry have been happily married since 2014!
The Fish, Stuckey and Goebel families all attend different churches in the area and have found unique ways to get their congregations involved in raising funds. A few years ago, the Fish’s church, St. John’s Christian in Archbold had a farm theme for their Vacation Bible School. They used it as an opportunity to share about Growing Hope Globally with the next generation, highlighting a different overseas program each evening.
Each year First Lutheran Church in Stryker has a fall festival with an outdoor service and a chili cookoff. Participants vote for the best chili by putting money in the jar in front of their favorite. The chili that has the most money in its jar entitles the chef who made it to a trophy and bragging rights. Growing Hope Globally wins too, because the money from all of the jars is collected and contributed to the Growing Project.
This past year, the kids at First Lutheran got to lend their artistic flair to the project. They made uniquely decorated wooden banks which were distributed to the congregation and brought back full of funds to support the Growing Project. By involving people of all generations, this project will continue to make a lasting impact around the world for many years!