Brookside Resident Brings Experience to Metro Lutheran Ministry

Cheri Wright has a big job, one that’s all the more challenging because she’s helping fill the vacancy created when Director of Outreach Ministry Suzanne Bartling moved to Canada with her family.

“I’m not replacing Suzanne,” Wright is quick to emphasize. “I’m hoping to continue her work. She did a lot to move MLM forward, and that’s what I hope to do, too.”

Wright’s work as director of Development Activities also includes several unique aspects. A Brookside area resident, she has spent most of her life in Kansas City except for 10 years in Washington D.C. when she worked in fundraising for two outstanding institutions, the Catholic University and Georgetown University. She has more than 28 years of experience in resource development for numerous nonprofit institutions and, for good measure, served 13 years as vice president of First Olathe Bancshares. She hopes to apply some of that experience to her work with MLM.

“I’d like to work on planned giving and major gifts so that we can serve more clients,” she explained. “We’re only limited by our resources.”

A volunteer for 40 years, Wright began serving MLM soon after she graduated from college. She and her family foundation also have supported MLM, creating an “angel fund” in honor of long-time staff member Faye Cowee.

A member of the Trinity Lutheran Church, she doesn’t exaggerate her contributions but admits to enjoying the positive results. “It’s amazing what a little support can do,” she said.

Wright saves her biggest praise for MLM’s many other volunteers, a small army of more than 2,000 people from throughout the metro area that she finds amazing. “MLM’s volunteers are so dedicated, I’m literally blown away. We have the most dedicated volunteers I’ve ever seen. It’s not just POEO (Power of Each One annual gala) and the Christmas Store, as big as those are. It’s all the other events—the home repair and more. It’s truly inspiring.”

The people that MLM serves are another group that impresses her. “Our clients are motivational, too,” she noted. “They have such wonderful stories. The more you get to know and love them, the more you see such wonderful people.”

In many ways, Wright is a natural for her new position, but her connection was one of those accidents that are also inspirational. While at an event earlier this year, she told a friend that she was thinking about a new career where she could better combine her skills with fundraising and nonprofits. MLM Executive Director Jim Glynn overheard the conversation and invited her for an interview. The rest is history.

“God blessed me,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to making a contribution.”

Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry of Kansas City serves homeless youth and adults, senior citizens and families throughout the metropolitan area. For more information, call (816) 931-0027 or visit www.mlmkc.org on the Internet.

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