Member Profile: Susan and Russell Stall
Couple Fights Poverty at Local, Global, and Grassroots Levels
Bread for the World members Susan and Russell Stall of Greenville, N.C., work to change systems and empower people. The couple recently traveled to Kenya, a trip organized by Dining for Women. Susan serves on the board of the local chapter of this global giving circle dedicated to helping women and girls in the developing world. The Stalls learned about Dining for Women when its founder addressed a JustFaith group that the Stalls facilitated in 2011.
JustFaith is a small-group curriculum that links spirituality and the church's social justice mission. Bread for the World President David Beckmann, another speaker in the JustFaith series, also made a lasting impression on the Stalls.
"David told about meeting the mother of his adopted child," Susan recalls. "This woman had made a contribution to Bread for the World." When David asked her what motivated the gift, the woman said that when she was a young, unwed, pregnant woman, she couldn’t have survived without the government assistance that Bread for the World helps pass in Congress. Now that her life was stable, she wanted to support Bread’s work.
"I was struck by how this person was helped — and even more that Bread for the World's own leader was indirectly impacted by Bread's advocacy through his child's birth mother," Susan continues. "I was also struck by the inclusiveness David exuded when he addressed us. My son asked a question, and David answered as though Hampton (the only teenager at the event) was the most important person in the room."
In 2008, Russell founded Greenville Forward, dedicated to improving the Stalls' home city. The effort mobilizes community conversations, leadership development, and community gardens, to name just a few. The latter is of special interest to Russell.
"Public gardens, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are becoming the new front porch, where people can see each other and visit, and grow healthy food to eat," he says.
The Stalls are members of Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church, where affluent members sit shoulder to shoulder with homeless people, who make up half the congregation. Susan calls the church "an incredible model." Triune recently hosted a large Offering of Letters. These letters to Congress had a special significance, since many of them were penned by low-income and homeless constituents.
Susan and Russell have a son in college and another in his senior year of high school. Their oldest son, Hampton, worked as an intern at Bread for the World this past summer.
The Stalls' preferred mode of financially supporting efforts to end hunger is through gifts of stock to Bread for the World Institute.
"We're not the top of the heap when it comes to income. But we do have resources," Susan explains. "When we give appreciated stock, Bread for the World Institute gets the full amount — and we are not liable to pay capital gains tax on it. So giving stock has been a great mechanism for us. Being Bread members provides us with a way to advocate for the world’s most marginalized people."
"Bread for the World could go out and give food to people," Russell says. "But changing systems? Empowering people to speak out? That's not teaching a man to fish. It's transforming the whole pond!"