SMC Board Members
Joan Riggers’ interest in volunteering for children began while she was in high school. At that time she volunteered for an elementary reading Program in the Clarkston School District. This led her to follow her passion and become an elementary and junior high school teacher. During her 30 years as a teacher she learned best educational practices. This knowledge will be helpful in aiding and funding children in need. As an advocate for education, Joan knows the importance it plays in changing lives for the better. Sister Mary Paule Tacke repeated often that education was the key to life long changes.
Joan volunteered for the Community Care Clinic in McCall Idaho a non-profit from 2013 to 2016. During this time, Joan learned fundraising techniques, bookkeeping skills, and laws governing non-profits in Idaho and the United States.
Joan was fortunate to be able to join her daughter, Brenna Riggers in a visit to Mthata, South Africa. While there she volunteered at Bethany Children’s Home. This experience gave her an insight into the importance of Sister’s projects. Joan visited again in 2014. At this time, she was able to meet with the Boards, Directors, and staff of the projects in South Africa. This gave her a deeper understanding of how each project works, needs and financial information. It is a deep passion for the children that drives Joan in continuing to aid in the care and education of children.
Mary Lytle has taken 3 trips to Umtata, South Africa to visit her aunt, Sister Mary Paule’.
After her tragic death, Mary became even more committed to keeping her vision and good works alive. Teaming up with her cousin, Steve Tacke and family friends Brenna and Joan Riggers (SMP devotees) to create Sister Mary's Children has been a dream come true.
Mary worked in the fashion industry for over 15 years and helped produce several fundraisers with Sister Mary Paule’ Tacke’s projects being beneficiaries.
She currently serves on a family board as the Executive Director helping to improve the lives of children within our communities. Mary also is a working mom finding the balance between home and work.
Her desire is to continue to support Sister Mary Paule's Tacke’s projects and people through Sister Mary's Children.
Mary’s aunt was a very kind, empathetic, courageous and dynamic woman. A spitfire! She created safe homes, schools and programs for children who didn't have the support, hope and love they needed to thrive. Mary is honored to serve her aunt’s memory and vision along with this passionate and dedicated team.
Steve Tacke has been involved with a non-profit organization called Helping Hands for the Disabled for over 25 years. His first involvement with them was as a part time paid caregiver at one of their group homes. He graduated from there to a part time Development Director. Currently he is a guardian to one of the residents at that group home. His entire professional career has been in the sales arena which gives him a good background in fundraising.
Steve’s passion for his work with Sister Mary’s Children is inspired by his life-long admiration of Sister Mary Paulé. From the time he met her as a young boy, she became his hero. Traveling to South Africa in 2005 and witnessing what she had accomplished and built with the orphanages ramped up his fervor to see it continue. She took her unique situation and used it to help the most helpless, abandoned and abused children. Sister Mary's Children is a vehicle to help continue Sister Mary Paulé's work. Steve wishes to be an integral part in seeing it continue.
As a long term volunteer with the partnering projects of Sister Mary’s Children, Brenna has been involved in their development and growth both locally in the U.S. and on the ground in South Africa. Her involvement began in 2006 as a long term volunteer with Bethany Children’s Home. Aiding with daily care of the children, education, staff development, and facility improvements, she was able to experience the daily operations of the project. During her time locally in South Africa, she realized the need to continue to assist with the projects from her home community, also shared home community of the late Sister Mary Paulé Tacke. Since 2006, she has helped organize assistance and support for the projects. In 2013, Brenna assisted in the development of Sister Mary’s Children to help frame the ongoing efforts.
Her perspective is based in her background as a certified pediatric nurse prepared with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Brenna’s background as a nurse provides a unique frame of reference in understanding the health concerns and aspects of wellness associated with the partnering projects of Sister Mary’s Children. Her ability to assist in the development of daily care and health programs including projects on personal hygiene, oral care, medication administration, compliance, and nutrition is an invaluable resource for the local projects and their staff.
Sue Tacke has a lengthy background in accounting for nonprofit entities. She spent twelve years as a Staff Accountant at the Monastery of St. Gertrude priding herself on her diligence to her duties. This work experience gives her a thorough understanding of development as it pertains to visibility, friend raising and fund raising.
Sue and her husband Cliff were volunteer board members of Cottonwood Butte Ski Area, a nonprofit corporation. They, along with the other volunteer board members, rebuilt the lift on a shoestring budget. They invested many, many hours over their twelve year tenure ensuring the t-bar ski lift would remain operational for the families of the Cottonwood community.
Although Sue has not yet visited Mthatha, it is on her wish list. She looks forward to one day making art with the children Sister Mary Paulé spent her life loving, honoring and educating. Sues is very sympathetic to the plight of children, saying "It affects me to the core of my being."
Joan Brown has been an educator in the Washington state public school system since 1984, serving children from 7 years to 12 years old, as well as students with special needs. In 2007 she was part of a delegation that traveled to South Africa from the Presbyterian Church she attended for the purpose of forming a partnership with a church in Mthatha, South Africa. Joan has traveled back to Mthatha alone and with family members in 2008, 2009 and 2011, continuing to build stronger relationships with the people in the church and beyond.
In 2014 Joan took a leave of absence for a semester of teaching to volunteer in the classroom at Thembelihle Home, one of the partners of Sister Mary’s Children. At that time she met Sister Mary Paulé. Joan describes the relationship with Sister as a pure gift as she was able to witness and learn from Sister’s lifetime passion for serving others in South Africa. Sister was often described by community members as the “Mother Theresa” of Mthatha. However, her spunk, bluntness, sense of humor, and her extremely bad driving made her a very “human” saint!
In 2015 and 2016 Joan returned to Mthatha to visit and volunteer at Thembelihle Home. Through those visits Joan has been delighted to see how the great work that was so important to Sister Mary Paulé continues to be faithfully and skillfully carried out by the local people at Bethany Home, Thembelihle Home and Ikwhezi Lokusa Rehabilitation and Development Society.
As she serves on Sister Mary’s Children board of directors, Joan will strive to bring her first hand experience and up to date knowledge of the partnering projects of SMC, as well as her strong desire to serve with cultural sensitivity.
SMC Partnering Project Leadership
Rose Kasumbi: Director Bethany Children's Home
Rose’s journey to Bethany Home began in 2003 when she and her family immigrated to South Africa from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amidst political strife that impacted their lives daily, Rose and her husband made the decision to immigrate in the hopes of raising their family in peace. Rose a nurse, and her husband a physician, chose to move to South Africa to provide new opportunity for their growing family.
After time in Pretoria registering with the medical body of South Africa and a stent at a rural hospital in the Eastern Cape, Rose's husband accepted a position in Mthatha in 2006. It was shortly after their move to Mthatha that Rose and her husband welcomed their third child into their young family. With her husband’s advancing career as a physician, Rose continued to focus on their children, home life, and settling in to their new community.
In September of 2009, Rose was invited by a friend to visit Bethany Children's Home. Rose still describes her first day at Bethany with vivid detail. “It was just so impressive, so many children caught up in difficult situations but still so happy and full of energy and love.” It was at the end of this visit that the Director approached Rose offering her a position as a nurse. With her young family in mind, Rose first declined the staff position but soon after agreed to working four hours per day. In December 2013, after losing their director, Bethany’s board approached Rose hoping she would act as Interim.
It is now Rose’s fourth year as Director of Bethany Children’s Home. During her tenure, Rose has provided leadership that has supported new and exciting development. She has implemented a wellness program focusing on nutrition and health, made early childhood education and development the cornerstone of Bethany, and has empowered and supported staff in furthering their education. Bethany is a place where each child has a brighter future because of Rose’s passion and leadership. When asked to describe Bethany's ongoing mission and being an SMC Partnering Project Rose summed it up beautifully.
“Bethany Home programs have successfully and positively impacted children’s lives with innumerable benefits. When disadvantaged children receive early high-quality care, the return on investment is huge for the community. These advantages appear immediately, last a lifetime, and even have an effect on other generations. The support received from funders such as Sister Mary’s Children makes Bethany home even more resolute to keep moving forward despite the challenges that come with this work.”
Rose, we couldn't agree more.