NAPPANEE — After nearly five years as executive director of the Family Christian Development Center (FCDC), Karen Sherer Stoltzfus is moving on.
Unlike some resignations, hers is a happy one. Stoltzfus is moving to Peru in July with her husband to serve as co-director of Goshen College’s Study Service Term for a year. They’ll help coordinate academics and service assignments for students studying Spanish and sign language.
When she first joined FCDC in 2009, members of the Wakarusa and Nappanee communities were reeling from the effects of the Great Recession.
“At the time, we were just trying to keep everything going and meet the incredible need there was at that time for people struggling to find jobs and keep their homes and access health care because they’d lost their health insurance,” she said.
FCDC is a faith-based nonprofit agency that offers Wa-Nee residents a food pantry, a clothing closet, a child vaccination program and programs in medication and emergency financial assistance.
Under Stoltzfus’ leadership, the number of people served by FCDC doubled from more than 6,300 in 2007 to more than 12,000 in 2013, according to a news release.
She also focused on running a tight ship.
“We’ve really worked on the infrastructure trying to make sure we’re working efficiently, paring down extra expenses and trying to be good stewards of the expenses we’ve been given” Stoltzfus said.
One of her proudest accomplishments is helping establish Come to the Table, an annual farm-to-table dinner auction that ‘s raised nearly $150,000 for FCDC since 2012.
Mark Mikel will replace Stoltzfus the first week of June. He was born and raised in the Wa-Nee area and served on FCDC’s board for seven years.
Mikel works at Bashor Children’s Home as an addictions therapist for residential services, and he trains staff. He’s been involved in numerous service groups and organizations in the Wa-Nee area and has served as a pastor at several area churches.
As the new executive director, one of his biggest goals is to help FCDC’s clients become less dependent on outside assistance, he said.
“The idea is to have a group of people that sit around a table working with the client at becoming self-sufficient and looking at different areas of life, from housing to education to transportation to health needs, and not necessarily doing it for the person but helping them get connected to resources to reach a more independent way of living,” he said.
Mikel earned his master’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and his bachelor’s degree from Taylor University.
As Stoltzfus prepares for the next chapter in her life, she feels confident passing the baton to Mikel.
“He knows the community really well, and I know he’ll do a great job for the organization,” she said.