Jack is eighty plus years old, and has stories to tell from every one of them. He fits his name – “Jack of all Trades.” (Only in Jack’s case, he’s the master of just about anything he puts his hand to.) After a full career and retirement at age 67, Jack and a friend started a lumber mill, then went back to school for furniture making at 70. As the years went by, Jack’s wife suffered a debilitating stroke leaving her unable to speak or do most rudimentary tasks. Jack next mastered the trade of caring for Barb with the gentleness and patience of an award-winning nurse.
With the extra challenge that came with Barb’s stroke aftermath and overall aging bodies, Jack decided to sell the farm to some of the younger family members and move into a duplex. While for most this would be a move signaling a step back, Jack was determined to keep going, determined to make every moment count. (For more on Jack’s story, see the first part of the video link below.)
Through the Hope Gala in the fall and a friendship with Hopeprint team members, Jack met a number of our refugee friends. In typical form, he started to imagine what he could do to participate. After seeing our dining room table, he crafted beautiful benches to match it perfectly and fit large numbers of people around it. When they arrived at our house, they were so new there was still sap oozing out of them. He later taught his grandson how to do the craft and made us a beautiful toy chest that doubles as a bench and greets visitors at the door.
But as the master of many trades, his highest achievement is his investment in people. As soon as possible after moving into his new duplex, Jack built a wood shop in the basement with the expressed purpose of having a training ground to do carpentry work. Through Hopeprint Home member Liz Ferree, Jack met Lal, a young, single Burmese refugee who recently arrived.
Today, Jack came to me excitedly sharing that Lal got a job! Thanks to Jack’s sharing about his work, his friends told him of their desire to hire on his new trainee at their farm, offering him room and board during the week at their home, and transporting him to job sites. Jack smiled as he recounted his interaction with Lal after getting the job, his face beaming.
The joy was simply contagious. I gave him a congratulatory handshake and said, “That’s what we’re doing, Jack. Making a difference one life at a time.”