WELCOME TO REACH MINISTRIES!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Pat Askren has been a guiding force behind keeping REACH going for the last year as Interim Director, and we’re so thankful for her quiet leadership, hard work, and dedication. It has been a year of moving forward and growing as a team, reevaluating our heart and where our passion lies, as well as seeking someone to fill the Executive Director position. It wasn’t a decision made lightly, and we are so grateful for each of your prayers for us during this time.
With that in mind, we are excited to welcome DAN STOEHR as REACH’s new EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR!
The first question we asked Dan when he sat down for his first interview was: “Now, we’ve been debating it for a while, but how exactly do you say your last name?” “Oh sure, it’s pronounced like stair/stare...” After a chorus of “ohhhhs” and “interestings,” followed by a couple of mispronunciation stories and laughter, we knew this guy was something good.
Apparently God agreed, because it was made abundantly clear to the staff/Board after multiple interviews that Dan was the man intended to be the next REACH Executive Director.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Dan and his family (wife, son and daughter) moved throughout the US while he was a pilot in the Air Force until they were stationed in Washington in the late ‘90s. Dan retired from the Air Force when he felt drawn to begin working with his local church followed by a position in development for two Lutheran schools. Dan has a life- long passion to mentor and offer hope to young people who are being held back or face discrimination because of circumstances beyond their control. His heart for youth and families is also one of the reasons he was drawn to REACH.
We think he’s a pretty great guy, and hope that you all get a chance to get to know him! (Take him up on the offer for coffee!) But enough ABOUT him, let’s hear FROM him. Here are a few of his thoughts one month in:
Christmas Came Early This Year: Observations From the New Guy
That’s a funny title coming from the guy who cringes when I see or hear the word “Christmas” before Thanksgiving ... and don’t even think about playing Christmas music before then! I’ve been “on the job” here at REACH since late October. From day one I’ve experienced the joy that we often associate with Christmas ... so many great people with huge hearts and serving with devotion. I am inspired. The staff vigorously embraced my challenge to fill my schedule with meeting REACH families, young adults, mentors, volunteers, donors, and supporting churches.
For now, I get to ask all the new guy questions: “What has REACH been, and what are we now? What is the key thing about REACH? Why are you involved?”
When I ask the question: “What’s the impact we’re having?” people come alive. One example is from my conversation with a remarkable young woman who started with REACH as a toddler. When I asked her what life might be like if she never had REACH, she physically shuddered and blurted out, “I’d be a mess, I’d be completely lost!”
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
What I continued to hear was story after story of true love, hope, and guidance shared by REACH families, mentors, staff, doctors, and volunteers.
Based on all of these conversations, I have discovered recurring themes:
- REACH is completely and authentically about LASTING RELATIONSHIPS, “family reunion,” and treasured friends.
- REACH offers UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE and a sense of worth in the face of isolation, rejection, and stigma ... one person said, “Misfits in their environment fit at REACH.”
- REACH is LIFE SHAPING AND LIFE CHANGING, offering promise, potential, direction, and courage.
- REACH is SAFE, offering trust, consistency, support, and stability.
When I ask, “What’s your vision for REACH’s future?” I’ve heard:
- A passion for our KIDS as they TRANSITION TO ADULTHOOD – walking alongside and coaching, modeling healthy ways to live.
- A desire to CONNECT WITH 13 TO 20-SOMETHINGS who aren’t already part of the REACH family – “they need us.”
- A need for more EDUCATION to Churches regarding the current realities of HIV, and removing stigma. – For families, education for young adults, and adoptive parents, regarding how to disclose, and coping skills.
That’s a lot for the first month! One thing is clear: our external environment has changed dramatically since REACH’s first camp in 1997. The birth rate of HIV+ babies in America is now nearly zero, yet more American families are adopting HIV+ children from overseas ... in all cases, the disease is no longer a death sentence for children. The first group of children to survive the disease are now young adults, and although treatable, the number of new cases of HIV in America continues to grow dramatically, especially among teens and young adults. So what does that mean for the future of REACH? Based on all my observations so far, we clearly have much, much more to do. This month, the board, staff, and volunteers began a process to revisit our core values, mission, vision, and strategies. We’ll engage in this work vigorously, seeking clarity within 2-3 months, and share it all with you, to solicit your feedback and input every step of the way. Look for more in the New Year.
I’d love to hear from you! Call, write, or let’s have a cup of coffee together (my treat).
Dan Stoehr, Executive Director
All of us at REACH hope that you have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
As we approach the end of 2013, we reflect on how grateful we are for your generous financial support throughout the year.
Did you know that none of our funding comes from government grants, and that only 5% comes from event registration fees? That means we are supported almost completely by the generosity of others, making it possible for our REACH kids and families to experience REACH Camp, the spring Family Retreat, mentoring, and other life-shaping services at zero or little cost to them. No one who needs REACH is excluded. What a blessing.
Please consider making a year-end gift to the work of REACH. Your gifts now will give us a jump start on making REACH available to kids and their families in 2014. Thank you.