Speakers to share stories at fundraiser

January 28, 2018 GMT

You might recognize their faces.

A college professor.

An author.

Business owners.

But maybe you don’t know their stories.

Here’s your chance.

On March 4, Fremont Nazarene Church is hosting, “Coming to America — Our Stories.” Eleven individuals who came to the United States from other countries will share their stories.

The public is invited to the event set for March 4 in the church at 960 Johnson Road. Speaker presentations are set from 3-5 p.m. A spaghetti dinner will start at 5 p.m.

A freewill donation will be accepted for the dinner with proceeds benefiting a missions trip that some church members plan to take in the fall to Papua New Guinea and for a youth group missions trip to Detroit.

The speakers and the countries from which they came are: Ferial Pearson, Kenya; Kerstin O’Connor, Sweden; Zhongming Huang, China; Gladys Starkey, Philippines; Ann Phillips, Thailand; Elke Dickmeyer, Germany; Noel Sarayla, Guatemala; Khanhkeo Carol Noudaranouvong, Laos; Hortencia Villasenor, Mexico; Kinia Hudson, Poland; and Shelly Ann Litle, Jamaica.

Each speaker will have 10 minutes to share his or her story. After all the speakers are finished, they’ll go to their own tables where guests may ask questions and visit with them.

Huang, who’s a professor of math at Midland University, is excited about the opportunity to speak. Huang said he’s “more than happy to share why I came and what I like here.”

Local residents may see some familiar faces like O’Connor, who co-owns Yankee Peddler West in downtown Fremont with her husband, Vince, or Sarayla of Tortilleria Anita Y Taqueria restaurant on Bell Street.

Villasenor, the Hispanic community pastor at the local Nazarene church, will speak as will Starkey, who lives in North Bend and wrote “Pesos to Pennies — A Filipino Immigrant’s Memoir.”

Carry Gerke, an event organizer, hopes the public will attend to hear about the positive impact the speakers have made and are making in the community and the country.

She said the individuals have lived in the community from five to 50 years.

Hudson is the only speaker who’s not from this area. She is a roommate of Gerke’s daughter, Caranda. Both are serving in the U.S. Air Force and are in New Mexico, where they’re training to be on a helicopter rescue team. Hudson’s talk will be livestreamed from New Mexico.

Also during the event, church member Abby Sukut will sing two songs, including “Amazing Grace.”

The spaghetti dinner will feature different sauces including a red sauce; a red sauce with meat; a white sauce and a white sauce with meat; garlic bread; salad; desserts; coffee, tea, water and lemonade.

Gerke, who’s working on the fundraiser with Kathy Johnson and Amber Sindelar, told how the event got started.

About four years ago, Gerke and other church members went on a missions trip to Ecuador.

The congregation hosted a fundraiser to help them to go.

“I asked other members who went on that missions trip to pay it forward and have a fundraiser for this group that’s going,” Gerke said.

Gerke then hopes the members who go to Papua New Guinea will have a fundraiser for the next group that goes on a missions trip.

She noted something else: “I am hoping that with the trip to Papua New Guinea and to Detroit that we can make as big a difference on their communities as these people have made on our community and country.”

Gerke plans to have a Facebook page about the event and invites area residents to attend what she calls a chance to hear great stories.

“People like to tell their story,” she added.