We Couldn't Do it Without Our Team
Each board member contributes their time and expertise, serving without compensation, donating services and funding expenses so that virtually 100% of every donation goes to support the educational efforts at Hope Village School & Orphanage.
Long time Rapid city residents, Joel & his wife Elli, have a total of 7 children, 5 of their own and 2 who arrived from Liberia following his trip to that country in 1999. The number of their grand children now totals 16. Joel is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and has worked in that field since 1977.
Joel first visited Liberia in 1999 as part of a medical mission team. While there he befriended a young Liberian man, Martin Digler, and brought him to the U.S. for a university education. Through Martin’s family, Joel learned of a dream to establish a school and orphanage in a local village. This dream was shared with a number of Rapid City residents and the rest is history. Land was purchased in 2005. Ground was broken in January of 2006. Six classrooms were complete by Fall 2006 and 120 children started their education. These small beginnings have grown to a 14 room school with almost 400 children attending class and 28 orphans ranging in age from 3 to 15 living in homes with caregivers.
Connie is a founding member of Bridges of Hope. When she met and heard the vision of Reverend Victor and Marie Padmore of the need for a school and orphanage in their region of war-torn Liberia, God immediately placed their mission on her heart. Her heart’s desire, through education, safe water and shelter, is to help give our children hope and a future.
She says she was thrilled and grateful the day she heard that the first well had been drilled in Hope Village by board member, Randy Taylor, as water is so vital to the lives and health of a community. She desires safe water and health for the rural poor, and believes this was a first step towards alleviating poverty and disease in their vulnerable region.
Connie has a background in Political Science, Child Development, counseling and parish assistance. She has worked locally with vulnerable youth, as well as on regional native american reservations, to help them overcome obstacles and better their lives. She has written and published educational curriculum to encourage, enrich and develop life-long skills in children. She loves to spend time with the elderly, especially bringing Bible studies to those in assisted living situations. Her family loves to ski and snorkel. She and her husband, Mike, love to travel, and are secret Downton Abbey fans and have two grown sons.
Cory is a computer nerd, designer and happy father of four (and husband of one). He has an obsessive amount of love for coffee and root beer. He and his family love movie nights, road trips, and just hanging out together. Being in IT and design, Cory feels he is able to bring many of those skills to the Bridges of Hope table, helping where he can to help the people of Hope Village.
Cory joined Bridges of Hope, Inc. in 2013. He and his wife were encouraged by a current board member to learn more about Bridges of Hope because of their connection to Africa – their youngest daughter is from Ethiopia. Both of them immediately knew they wanted to be apart of what God is doing through the non-profit. Cory says he is always amazed to see how God provides – whether it be all the details coming together for an event or the teachers at Hope Village School getting paid their wages. He is especially grateful for the continued support of so many people.
His desire is that more and more people will join in with what God is doing in West Africa and that Bridges of Hope will continue to grow and be used by God for as long as possible.
Arlen went on a mission trip to Liberia in 2000 with 5 other people from Trinity Lutheran Church. After spending 2 weeks there, he fell in love with the people of Liberia. A few years later, he read an article in the Rapid City Journal about Bridges of Hope and wanted to be involved. He’s been with the organization for 5 years now.
Arlen says “I just enjoy being part of the board. My hope is that we will enable Hope Village and the school to continue to grow and become self sustaining in the future. I would like to see a broad base of monthly contributions to cover monthly expenses so fund raisers go to expansion of operations toward sustainability.”
Arlen is a retired mechanic and his wife, Gwen, is a retired teacher. Gwen helps with the kindergarten screening and is active in MOPS. He uses his spare time to fix things, he says. Together, they have two sons who find ways to be involved with some type of ministry. As a family, they all enjoy camping (especially with their 3 grandchildren ) and other outdoor activities.
Russ is a retired carpet layer and currently an EMT with the Rosebud Ambulance service and holds a part time Youth ministry position at Trinity Lutheran Church. He and his wife have 3 boys. Together, he and his wife enjoy a lot of outdoor activities, paddleboarding, scuba diving, archery, camping and traveling. They enjoy serving in the areas God has given us to serve – one of those as board member with Bridges of Hope. Russ is also a founding member, having joined our team 10 years ago after taking a trip to Liberia in 2000.
Russ brings his strength of experience directly with Liberia, having been there twice, and he has many friends and connections with Liberians. He says his first trip with his wife and youngest son was the most memorable; it was a eye opening experience and drew them closer to Jesus in so many ways.
Russ’ hope for Bridges of Hope and Hope Village is that as we help those at Hope Village get on their feet and become self sufficient, that we bring the light of Jesus to each and every one, and that we help the orphans of Liberia experience family.
Brad has been with Bridges of Hope for 3 years and has brought to the organization his big heart. He has represented Bridges of Hope on numerous television news segments, and hosted many of our events and concerts. His main desire for Bridges of Hope in two words is “self sustainability” which he believe’s IS possible!
He is an over-educated “Daddy home-maker” and has two awesome young boys and a beautiful woman who he married in 2006.
Their family loves to Travel, camp, fish, hunt, rock and fossil hunt, hike, explore, geo-cache, help others and spend time with friends and family. (To name a few)
Brad says “Bridges of Hope has done amazing things for the care of children with the multiple dwellings where they are cared for in a Christian family setting. If that isn’t enough, another amazing part is the extremely successful school that provides the utmost needed education to hundreds of students yearly.”
Our Other Board Members