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.
7. Mary Hirsch
For 27 years, Mary Hirsch has been beautifying our dining room tables with flowers donated from VanderSalm’s Flowershop and Garden Center. Every Tuesday morning, Mary stops by the Flowershop to pick up the extra flowers that John and Ned VanderSalm generously set aside for Ministry with Community to use. Mary brings the flowers to our dining room and arranges a perfect bouquet on each table while chatting with members and staff. The fresh flower arrangements make our meal services feel more like fine dining and our members love the result. Mary’s dedication to her role led to her receiving the Dorothy Markusse Community Volunteer Award from MwC in 2012.
8. Walter T.
Whenever we see Walter he has a smile on his face. Recently, his smile has been even bigger. Ministry with Community helped Walter obtain some of the paperwork he needed to get a Kalamazoo County ID card. His desire for the card was increased by the promise of a new job that required ID before he could start. We hurried to do our part and Walter was quick to take care of the rest on his own. Within a couple of days he was thrilled to show off his new ID and report that he was working and enjoying his new job.
9. Roscoe Turner
Roscoe Turner is a sort of legend at Ministry with Community. A portrait of him (shown at left) hangs in our Volunteer Lounge, and we have an award named after him. He first came to MwC as a member, but as he got sober and began to rebuild his life, he was hired as a staff member. Roscoe kept a “cuss jar” at the front desk. If he heard anyone use a profane word he would insist that they put at least a penny in the jar. When the jar was full, he would use the funds to buy candy or other treats to share with members. Roscoe mentored many members and was a living example of sobriety for them. Mr. Turner passed away many years ago now, but we remember his legacy annually with the Roscoe Turner Member Volunteer Award. The award is given to a member volunteer that has shown initiative in personal development and growth.
10. Sr. Mary Bader, CSJ
Sister Mary Bader was a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, and a regular volunteer at MwC for 31 years before she passed away in 2009. She served lunch with the Thursday Group each week and often helped out at the service desk or at events. Sister Mary saw the best in everyone she interacted with and our members, staff, and other volunteers adored her for it. Sister Mary had a passion for helping others, and was especially drawn to those that were struggling with homelessness, hunger, and domestic abuse. In the years since she has passed, the Sr. Mary Bader, CSJ Endowment Fund has been created and sustained at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. We also honor her annually with the Sisters of St. Joseph Group Volunteers of Excellence Award, which goes to a group of outstanding volunteers that are dedicated to our members and our mission.
11. Gerry Gulliver
Gerry first came to MwC to complete 19 hours of required community service for a drug offense. He was trying hard to stay sober and found that the hours he spent at MwC distracted him from using. Gerry continued to volunteer with us after he finished his community service hours. He liked the atmosphere and found a support system that helped him stay positive and work on his recovery. In 2017, Gerry was awarded the Roscoe Turner Member Volunteer award for his dedication to MwC and the improvement of his own life. Gerry passed away last year, but even as his health began to decline, he could be found operating a vacuum with one hand while toting his oxygen tank with the other. Members, volunteers, and staff remember Gerry for his work ethic, generosity, and quick wit.
12. Melrose Hensley
Melrose Hensley (right side of photo with Bridgett Blough, The Organic Gypsy, at left) first came to MwC as a single father raising his newborn son. In need of resources and support, he turned to the Social Work team and began attending the Men’s Group. Soon, Melrose was hired as a dishwasher in our kitchen and loved the sense of family among staff. His work ethic and passion for the organization have kept him at MwC where he is now our Kitchen Manager. Melrose has a bright smile and a warm personality that are contagious. These qualities, combined with his patience have made him a favorite among members, staff, and volunteers alike. Read more about his incredible story here.
13. Prudence McCabe
Prudence McCabe (second from left side of photo) first started volunteering with a friend after retiring in 2008. Ten years later, she still spends about 30 hours per week with us. Most of Prudence’s time at MwC is spent at our Service Desk helping members with laundry, showers, and mail. Her compassion and nonjudgment make her a great listener, and members often confide in her. Prudence remembers every name, face, and story of those she meets. She also helps us with a day of data entry each week, assists with events, and serves a meal with her church each month. Prudence was awarded the Dorothy Markusse Community Volunteer award in 2010 for her outstanding and dedicated service to the community. We often refer to her as a Super Volunteer and we’re not sure what we would do without her.
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.