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Bread for the World denounces the recent killings of George Floyd and generations of Africans and their descendants in the U.S. and around the globe who have been devastated by structural racism and inequity.Read Statement
As you consider the legacy you want to leave, we invite you to make Bread part of your legacy. No matter your age, there’s no better time than now to make provisions for faithful stewardship of the gifts God has given you. Join Bread members in our Legacy of Hope, and help sustain our work to end hunger.
Longtime Bread for the World member Dr. Grace Nelson grew up during the Great Depression, on the plains of South Dakota. “There were six students in my first grade class,” Grace says. “By eighth grade, that number had shrunk to just two!”
Grace’s family was poor, but she says she didn’t know it. She remembers her parents as people who “kept up with the world,” and whose lives extended out into the community and state leadership. “We kids were expected to leave for the wider world,” Grace remembers. “Moving alone to college was an adventure, yet it also felt like a natural step.”
Grace, like her late husband Burton, has been a lifetime member of the Evangelical Covenant Church. During his long tenure at North Park Theological Seminary (Chicago), Burton introduced every single student in his ethics classes to the organization. Several even went on to join Bread for the World’s board of directors.
Grace calls Burton “the driving force” for Bread for the World in their marriage. But she considers ending hunger an important part of her life. So much so that Bread is a beneficiary in her will. “Bread’s message really sank in when we became parents,” she remembers. “I fully realized how devastating it would be for a mother with a growing child not to have enough food.”
For years, Grace worked as a special education teacher in the Chicago public schools. She saw firsthand that a child who doesn’t have primary needs met has a hard time developing trust in others. Her next career, as a clinical psychologist, seemed to follow naturally.
When her husband passed away in 2004, Grace began to lead Spiritual Formation classes at North Park Theological Seminary, yet another natural step for her.
Today, Grace is blessed with eight grandchildren. “I do a little gardening and have a pile of great books—stacked behind a chair,” she laughs. But the biggest joy in her life, she says, is people. “Family and friends make life rich.”
Grace says she is also thankful for Bread for the World. Bread provides a gift: the gift of an opportunity to help, she explains. She finds great satisfaction in knowing she is part of Bread for the World’s many successes. “I live in hope that someday — perhaps in my grandchildren’s lifetimes — none of God’s children will ever go hungry again.”
Mary Naftzger remembers her home town, Bar Harbor, Maine, as an up-and-coming place, with a brisk tourist trade and a cancer treatment center that employed many. At school, though, she noticed a few children who came to class in ill-fitting clothes. She saw them eating unhealthy snacks at church. Her mother explained that the children’s families were poor and couldn’t buy them new clothes or good food.
“I came to believe everyone should have the basics and enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Mary says.
Later, Mary participated in the 1963 March on Washington and heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Friends and I were standing beside a tree,” she recalls. “What a beautiful cross section of humanity that cared. Everyone from people in poverty to the very well-dressed. All ages and ethnicities.”
Soon afterward, Mary was hired by Chicago’s Association House, an international settlement house providing services for immigrant neighbors. In Chicago, she met the man who would become her husband. Bob Naftzger, an engineer.One of their first dates was a camping trip on the dunes of Lake Michigan. “We had a lot in common but, really, I married Bob for his social justice beliefs,” Mary says with a smile.
When a Bread for the World chapter began in Chicago, Mary and Bob joined eagerly. They took part in an Offering of Letters at their home church, St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church. They wrote letters to Congress, urging the expansion of the food stamp program (now SNAP).
Now retired, Bob and Mary enjoy living near the University of Chicago, Lake Michigan, and downtown. “We choose to live in a multicultural area,” Mary says. “That’s important to us.” The couple also enjoys spending time with their two daughters and three grandchildren.
After having played a role in Bread for the World’s many successes over the years, Bob and Mary have confidence of Bread’s effectiveness. “Eradicating hunger is a mission that needs to be pursued for the long term,” Mary says. “Bread’s advocacy is so outstanding that I want to help keep it funded well beyond my lifetime.” That, Mary says, is precisely why both she and Bob chose to include Bread for the World in their will.
Recently, we talked with longtime member, Maria McClain, who lives with her husband, Ed, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their involvement in Bread for the World spans three decades.
Q: How did you first learn about Bread for the World?
Maria McClain: Ed and I were given a membership as a wedding present!
Q: You’ve been members since Bread’s early days. Why do you think the gift resonated with you?
Maria: The first image of hunger I recall was when my mother had meningitis. We were living in Ohio, and a local woman helped with housekeeping. We drove to her house to deliver some Christmas gifts and discovered they lived in a shack. I attended parochial school, and the sisters gave us a sense of helping those in need.
Q: In addition to participating in the Baker’s Dozen monthly giving program, you have including Bread in your will. Why do you feel it’s important to do both?
Maria: When we look at an organization to support, we want to see that it is doing something toward systemic change. Bread for the World does that. They have always done a great job empowering others to better their lives.
That’s why we decided to make Bread for the World a part of our life’s legacy. We included Bread in our will so we can support its mission even after we’re gone. We consider our bequest a gift of faith and hope to those who will carry on this important work after our lifetimes.
By Derek Schwabe
After I graduated from college, I spent several months doing field research on agricultural supply chains in Sierra Leone. I then learned about a year-long fellowship working on the Hunger Report at Bread for the World Institute, and I jumped at the chance.
The Institute provides the research and analysis that shapes Bread for the World’s advocacy for legislation and policies. My fellowship gave me a chance to innovate in ways only a young person can. Being a know-it-all college graduate, I had ideas to help the Institute tell better stories and reach new ears. And my co-workers were gracious enough to let me learn from my mistakes.
After my fellowship ended, I was honored to be asked to stay on as a staff member. My hard work, new ideas, and willingness to ask questions have been welcomed and valued.
As a young advocate who believes in ending hunger, I’m trying to figure out how to inspire young people — to count themselves in — even if they don’t do it in exactly the same way previous generations did. I’m working on ways to meet my generation “where they are” and help them channel their passion for a better world into Bread’s advocacy work.
My goal is to earn the trust of young people by using new ways to communicate — matching the passion that fueled Art Simon and Bread for the World’s other founders. But my generation so badly needs to see examples of others — like you — who, through your faithful actions and your financial support, have dedicated your lives to ending hunger.
I know many Bread for the World members have included the organization in their will or estate plan.
You, too, may have decided to extend your legacy by establishing such a bequest. I believe that those bequests can inspire younger people who may be skeptical — teaching them the unmistakable authenticity of faithful commitment.
Even though I’m young, I already know Bread for the World’s mission will always be a vital part of my life’s work and my life’s legacy. Together, we will sustain this work of ending hunger once and for all — to fulfill God’s vision of a world without hunger.
Derek Schwabe is a former research associate at Bread for the World Institute
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