Choose Today Whom You Will Serve
MorningStar’s Founder/CEO, Ken Jaeger, does not mince words when it comes to inspiring others to live a life of selfless giving. Whether speaking to his Home Office team or a community team, his words are often these: “Don’t wait to serve. Serve now. Today. Get involved somewhere, anywhere. It will make you a better person (and if you work for MorningStar, it will make you a better team member). And don’t wait to give until the day you make a million dollars. Don’t wait until your children are grown. Don’t wait until you retire. Give now, give generously. And just see what happens. For you cannot out-give God.”
Part of MorningStar’s chosen responsibility as a company, and as individuals, is to invest our time and talents in charitable projects close to home and around the world.
Taking a decided lead in this is Ken himself. He is passionate about helping the poor in developing nations. From his earliest days in Colorado, he was deeply impacted by abject poverty internationally. Ken resolved then to use any success he might achieve in combatting despair with hope.
Nicaraguan Orphans: Not Forgotten
Nicaragua is one of Latin America’s least developed countries. More than 80% of their poor live in rural areas, many in remote communities where access to basic services is a daily challenge.
On September 4, 2007, Hurricane Felix made a direct hit on the village of Puerto Cabezas, devastating a vast region, destroying thousands of homes and killing over 100. Today its 40,000 inhabitants still suffer 80% unemployment.
To this forlorn area Ken came in 2010, where he first met Pastor Earl Bowie and his fledging orphan ministry. On the plane home, Ken’s heart was clenched by what he’d witnessed and the desperation of need. “I knew I couldn’t turn the page on this. So I went to the guys in my church and formed our first construction team.”
Today Casa Bernabe has new dormitories; a dining hall and commercial kitchen; soccer field and basketball court—a miracle of progress made possible by international teams of workers and donors.
While much has been done to restore hope, so much remains to be accomplished. And so Ken’s trips continue, with frequency. On every one he is joined by at least one of his grown children. Says son John, after nearly 20 trips, “This is where I find my fulfillment. This is where I get my high.”
Learn more at RenewTheHope.org
Home Office Builds Vocational Center
Shaken and stirred. That’s how we, as “Team Trabajo” (the Home Office of MorningStar) felt during our week stay in Nicaragua in support of the Casa Bernabe orphanage.
We were shaken by walking past the tin shacks of Puerto Cabezas, by riding their pot-holed roads, by visiting their forlorn hospitals and jails—and by daring to look squarely at abject poverty. We were stirred by the joy we saw among the remarkably resilient Nicaraguan people, by their gleaming smiles and cheerful greetings. Imagine us stepping (rather timidly) into the local Feeding Center, and each being swarmed by dozens of children—beautiful, longing faces, eager to make a connection. Our minds, like pinball machines, bounced from one emotion to the next. In scene after striking scene, our hearts swelled, winced—broke.
We were stirred to go deep with ourselves and with each other in an attempt to process all we were experiencing. With anxious eyes, we asked at our evening debrief what we could possibly do to make a difference here—or anywhere in a world so strangulated by poverty. Our leaders, Ken and Matt (whose personal commitment to Nicaragua is profound), encouraged us to rejoice in the fact that each of us at MorningStar, whatever our role, is contributing to the health and progress so evident at Casa Bernabe.
We were thrilled to bring Pastor Earl (director of the orphanage) $52,696 in donations, which paid to reengineer the building that will now serve as a Vocational Center. We toted $500 in therapeutic supplies for what will be the Sensory Room at the Center, a place where counselors can help children work through their traumatic histories. In a spontaneous burst of affection for the 20 locals who labored alongside us in the humidity, Drew Ostransky and Blake Smith (through Facebook) raised an additional $1200 in two days to cover their week’s wages.
Now, with the efforts of that impactful week complete, we are left with the persisting call to keep caring, keep investing our time, talent and treasure wherever it can serve and uplift others. Ken exhorts us to be “People of the Possible,” moving forward together to change this mountain called Poverty into a mountain of Hope—one child at a time. After all, we are MorningStar. Bringing light and healing is what we do.
Argentum’s “Senior Living Executive” magazine featured an article on us in its January/ February 2017 issue:(argentum.org/magazine-articles/cultural-exchange/)
Herculean Efforts in the Name of Love
Love does go the extra mile. Three valiant men from MorningStar Senior Living each pedaled a “Century Ride” in the name of love. That’s 100 miles for each cyclist in the name of 50 kids who live at Casa Bernabe.
And while only three from MorningStar rode on that autumn day, many more wrapped themselves into the excitement of this Nicaraguan fundraiser. Matt Turner, Mike DeGiovanni and Gary Burk stopped for a breather (and encouragement) at collectively 12 MorningStar homes on their individual routes.
In Phoenix, Gary (Regional Sales Director) began at MorningStar of Fountain Hills on the east side of the valley, then to MorningStar at Arcadia in central Phoenix, finishing at MorningStar at Arrowhead in the west, Maneuvering city roads, the Arizona heat and hilly terrain, Gary had many obstacles to overcome. And so he did—with his signature grin and good humor.
Meanwhile his colleagues, Matt and Mike, took on Colorado. Mike (VP of Culinary Services) biked from MorningStar of Fort Collins to MorningStar of Boulder, then to the construction site of MorningStar of Arvada, finishing strong at MorningStar of Wheat Ridge. For his part, Matt (Managing Partner) conquered Metro Denver: MorningStar at Dayton Place (Aurora), MorningStar at Jordan (Centennial), Parker Senior Living by MorningStar, MorningStar at RidgeGate (Lone Tree), MorningStar of Littleton, and finally, in a climatic moment, just as Mike pedaled in from the opposite direction: MorningStar of Wheat Ridge.
Impressive. Heart-pounding. Muscle-cramping. And so very wonderful.