Rocking babies at Family Building Blocks is a ministry? Sounds good to me, tell me more …

It was 2004. Her story captured my attention. Partly because I was a founding board member of FBB, and partly because of what we do here at SLF. Carrie Maheu was explaining the joy of helping at-risk moms by caring for their kids while they were learning how to be better moms. Only one problem. Her pastor at the time was of the opinion that “rocking babies for a secular organization is not God’s work.” Serving only counted if it was inside the church walls.

I asked her if she served at church. Oh my, did she! Committees, mentoring, events, you name it. But Carrie was discovering the joy of taking servant-hood outside the four walls and sharing it with neighbors. “Being” the Gospel, even if direct proclamation and evangelism weren’t appropriate. As with rocking babies and serving in the Toddler Classroom at FBB’s new Chelsea’s Place on Lancaster.

We were fast friends. Turns out she had just ended a long career in retail management, where she mastered not only marketing and customer service, but organizational structure and efficiencies, as well. Just the kind of talents a growing nonprofit ministry could use. Long story short, Carrie became one of our original “lightning rods,” serving the McKay/East Salem area where she lived and worshiped. The electric trio of Carrie, Wayne Crowder and Herm Boes helped launch our City as Neighborhood strategic plan, which SLF deploys to this day. Over the years, Carrie expanded her role to Lead Trainer as she helped disciple DJ Vincent, Lindsey Walker and Kaleb Herring in the ways and joys of being an SLF Lightning Rod (neighborhood field staffer).

Carrie’s contributions to the SLF mission and team are legion. Of course there are the ‘obvious metrics’ like running/replicating after-school programs, launching/replicating the La Casita family center, reviving/expanding the McKay-area Community Partnership Team, and spearheading projects like the GrassRoots AfterSchool Soccer Program (GRASSP), Foster Parents Night Out, and Indoor Park. She also championed large-scale initiatives like Reading for All, McKay Area Coalition for Student Success, and Fostering Hope. But some of Carrie’s biggest contributions to SLF (and to me as the leader) were things that don’t get measured for reports or brochures … Staffing decisions. Avoiding mission drift. A mom’s eye for staff care and needs. Saying ‘no’ to opportunities that were tempting, but not our call. In this way, Carrie was a key senior advisor to me even as she gave 110% out in the neighborhoods for kids, families, schools, nonprofits, local merchants, and agencies.

As you might have guessed, this is a heartfelt salute. But it’s not a farewell, as Carrie will continue serving at church and in the neighborhoods (how can she not?). If you know Carrie, ‘Retirement’ is not a word that fits … we like the phrase ‘SLF Ambassador’ and look forward to many years of emeritus partnership and fellowship. Carrie’s fingerprints and DNA are indelibly woven into SLF’s soul.