How It All Began

In January of 2008, I had made the decision to leave my job as the senior pastor of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and return to full-time work as a marriage and family therapist. It was at that time that I had lunch with a dear friend of mine, Ab Nicholas. Ab is one of the finest men I know, and he was asking me all about my future plans. Eventually, our conversation turned to families and the stresses they face in the 21st century. I expressed my continued desire to help strengthen families: more families than I had been able to reach in my years of either being a therapist or in my then current job of being a rector of a parish.

My dream, I explained, was to create programs meant to support and empower families which would be based on the knowledge I had acquired through the tens of thousands of hours I had spent talking with families as a therapist, as a pastor, and most importantly as a father of three grown children. These programs could be delivered primarily through churches and would strengthen and empower the families as well as churches and other institutions that care about those families.

Ab listened carefully and asked me what stopped me from creating such programs. I explained that both time and money were needed to create a program that could really make a difference and be far reaching. I went on to explain that I didn't have enough of either to do the task justice. He smiled quietly and suggested that maybe he could help. The seed of the Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation was planted at that luncheon,  and I will be eternally thankful to Ab for his open listening and his generosity and trust. Several years later, I am now confident that churches and families will benefit from Ab's vision and generosity for many years to come.

The Rev. Dr. D. Scott Stoner

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