This is the fourth in a series of stories about MEDA hubs across North America. The hubs, more than a dozen volunteer-led groups, organize events and activities to build awareness about MEDA’s work creating business solutions to poverty, to network and to hear people share stories about faith, work and entrepreneurship as a calling.
MEDA supporters in Ohio may hold the record for the most meetings organized by a group.
For many years, their monthly meetings, held from May through September, were held in two different counties, on consecutive days.
Dallas Steiner, who is completing nine years on MEDA’s international board this fall, tried to attend all those monthly sessions in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Steiner has been involved with the Ohio hub for at least 15 years and has served as chair for more than a decade.
Dan Miller, a retired medical doctor who was also involved in a family hospitality business, says the Ohio gatherings date back to the late 1970s or early 1980s. “A number of us were really impressed with the mission of MEDA.”
The group originally tried to get congregations acquainted with MEDA’s business approach to alleviating poverty, by speaking in as many area churches as possible.
Over the years, events have included speakers over a meal or tours, including at least three visits a year to a farm or industrial business. “It could be on any activity,” Steiner said.
Most sessions involved discussion of integration of faith and business. The tagline for the group’s monthly newsletter described their events as providing “personal stories of weaving faith, family and career into one’s life journey.”
“We just tried to make subjects that were really relevant to the day, of the day.”
Many spring events have featured a dinner with speakers from MEDA.
The hub has about 150 supporters in both Wayne and Holmes counties, plus a few from other areas, he said.
Over the years, the Ohio group has raised funds for MEDA projects in Nicaragua, Peru, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Attending MEDA’s annual convention and taking trips greatly strengthened the group, Miller said. He fondly recalls a trip to East Africa in 1995, and other trips to Central America, Ethiopia, and Egypt to see MEDA projects.
Recently, the Ohio group’s efforts have focused on bringing supporters to a single location, which varies according to the event.
A lunch event in May attracted more than 40 people. Upcoming events include a discussion group, a visit to a startup business and a small business panel.
Other members of the Ohio executive include Keith Hostetler, MEDA staffer Bethany Nussbaum, Kirsten Detweiler, David Lehman, and Mike Gerber.
Steiner hopes the group will schedule more informal, outdoor events in 2022. This would allow families to bring their children along.
Family-oriented pizza nights are a better way of engaging. younger supporters than traditional sit-down banquets, he said.