40 Faces of Ministry with Community
Ministry with Community is celebrating 40 years of rebuilding lives! For our anniversary as an organization we will share 40 Faces of MwC. The individuals featured will include members, staff, volunteers, and others who have had an impact on the organization or have been impacted by it. Check back each week to see more of the amazing people that have helped to make MwC the place it is today.
1. Dorothy Markusse
Dorothy Markusse (far right side of photo) is one of Ministry with Community's founders. In 1978, she and other members of the North Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo recognized a need for basic services in the community. Together they started serving meals and created a safe space where people could gather in the basement of their church. As the organization grew, Dorothy became the first Executive Director and moved Ministry with Community into a building of its own at 440 N. Church Street.
2. Rev. Robert "Bob" Rasmussen
Bob Rasmussen (far left side of photo) was the Pastor at North Presbyterian Church and cofounded Ministry with Community along with Dorothy Markusse and other members of their congregation. Bob worked to obtain a $10,000 grant from The Presbytery of Lake Michigan which enabled the official start of MwC. Over the years, Bob remained close to the organization and regularly volunteered to play the piano for members during meal services.
3. Gwen Lanier
Gwen Lanier first came to MwC in 1992 as a dishwasher. She was newly sober at the time. Gwen stayed at MwC and kept rebuilding her life and the lives of those around her. She helped start our Men's Group, went back to school, and took on new positions. 26 years later, Gwen is still with us as our Recovery Support Specialist and is working on a Social Work degree at KVCC. Her job is to assist our members on their path to sobriety and a better life. Click here to read more about what Gwen does in her work with the Program Team.
4. Harold "Bud" Hanselman
Bud started volunteering at MwC with First Presbyterian Church in 2002. His piano playing talents were a big hit during meal services and he spent 9 years playing several times each week for our members. Bud played by ear and was always happy to take requests from members, staff, and volunteers. The song “Over the Rainbow,” was a particular favorite of many and one that Bud chose to have played at his memorial service in 2011. Bud was a great listener and always had good advice when someone was struggling. He was a friend and father/grandfather figure to everyone around him. To this day, we think of Bud every time the piano he helped us purchase is played at MwC. A plaque with his photo and name can be found there.
5. Lizark F.
Lizark’s success story is impressive. Growing up in poverty and struggling with addiction are only a couple of things that he has overcome to get to where he is today. Lizark (far left side of photo) says that, “When you’re tired and ready to change, you’ll do it. I got tired and I did it.” When he found himself ready for change, he started attending the MwC Men’s Group where he found a support system and met Gwen Lanier, our Recovery Support Specialist. Lizark credits many MwC staff members including Gwen and Phil Boothroyd with helping him forge a better path for himself. Lizark is now a full-time truck driver and has traveled all over the United States. Not only does he love his job, but it allows him to support his family. You can read more about Lizark’s story in our November 2015 newsletter.
6. Sam Neal
Sam (far right side of photo) was working as our custodian when he got a big idea. He wanted every member with a job to receive a bike to make their commute to and from work faster and easier. Sam wasted no time contacting local businesses and individuals to bring his idea to fruition. Within a few weeks we started receiving bikes, locks, and funds to support his dream. Sam passed away in 2014 but we still honor his memory by giving away bikes to newly employed members as part of what we now officially call, Sam’s Bike Program. If you are interested in donating a bike in good working condition, contact our Program Director, Don Jones, at 269-343-6073 x122.
Rebuilding lives is the daily work of Ministry with Community. We create a positive, safe, and caring environment where everyone is welcome. Donate now:
Ministry with Community does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, marital status, familial status, height, weight or arrest record.