Pam and Russell De Young
Unbridled Devotion to Justice
Congressional Aide. Mennonite. NASA scientist. Former federal prisoner. Russell De Young could be identified as any of these, but Bread for the World knows him chiefly as an activist extraordinaire.
Russell and his wife Pam joined Bread for the World in the organization’s earliest days. They were both students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Russell remembers recognizing Bread as providing a “unique way to go beyond charity.”
Today, the couple makes their home in Newport News, VA, where Russell works as a senior atmospheric scientist at NASA. A few years ago, as the result of a NASA-sponsored fellowship, he served on the staff of Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI).
Pam is a gerontologist, and earned her Master of Science in Gerontology when she was in her late 50s. The couple has two adult children and two grandchildren. “At one time, our grandkids benefited from WIC,” Pam says. WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children, is the federal nutrition program that provides supplemental foods for mothers and young children. Bread members have worked hard to sustain funding for this program.
The De Youngs support Bread for the World through the Baker’s Dozen giving program, making automatic monthly gifts. They are pleased that the money saved in processing their gifts equals the value of a thirteenth gift—a baker’s dozen.
The couple also heads the Offering of Letters at their home church, Huntington Mennonite Church. “I have always been a Mennonite—I just didn’t know it!” Pam says with a joyful laugh. “A core belief of the church is that we are caretakers—not owners—of what we have. The Offering of Letters helps educate parishioners as it presses legislators to act.”
“To be a Christian means you are a disciple of Jesus,” Russell says. As part of his discipleship, several years ago, Russell protested at Fort Benning, the location for the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). He saw the school fostering human rights abuses. Along with others, he was arrested and served a 6-month sentence for trespassing at the Army training institute for Latin American soldiers.
“The De Youngs—Russell especially—have devoted untold hours coordinating activities, events, and trainings to help end hunger,” says Bread for World’s founder Art Simon.
Why is the couple so excited about Bread? “It’s a Christian organization,” says Pam. “And their bedrock is the same as my bedrock. The changes Bread has brought about are exciting. I truly feel that if Christians see and experience what Bread and its members accomplish, they’ll be excited, too.”
Bread for the World members can participate in the Baker’s Dozen giving program with a gift of as little as $10 a month. Gifts may be made either by electronic funds transfer or credit card. To join, visit www.bread.org/bakersdozen or call 1-800-822-7323.
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