“Every one of us comes with a great gift to give the world. When you’re hungry, you are prevented from sharing that gift.”
- Sue Schmitt
Martin and Sue Schmitt, along with their daughters Jensen and India, want to help people. The family addresses social and human services issues in various ways. From the incredible task of starting an orphanage overseas to the use of social media to effect change within their own community, a thread of compassion weaves this family together, impacting people near and far for a greater good.
A Philanthropic Journey
When Martin, a software engineer, and Sue, an author, progressed in their careers, they wanted to give back in a purposeful way. But where? And how? The family established a donor advised fund* and set about the task of helping people in need. First, in Haiti by helping to establish an orphanage with a mission to house and educate abandoned children infected with or affected by AIDS.
Also, Sue set a goal to help feed 1 million women and children. In speaking to the issue of hunger relief Sue said, “The easiest, most basic way to lift people up is to make sure that families have food on the table.” This belief would lead them to expand their philanthropic vision. “We believe in the value of supporting organizations that are already established and doing great work,” Sue said. “We looked for leaders – change makers – who are the top in their field. That’s how we found Feeding America.”
The family values different aspects of Feeding America’s work including the fact that $1 can help provide 10 meals for people facing hunger, innovations in food rescue and how logistics and distribution are crucial to addressing hunger in the U.S.
Addressing Social Issues: The Next Generation
From the time they could walk and talk, Martin and Sue’s daughters Jensen and India have been involved in their parents’ philanthropic efforts. Their early firsthand experiences planted seeds of empathy and passion to help others. “Seeing the struggles the kids at the orphanage went through had an impact on how I’ve grown up and how I’m going to be as an adult,” said India. Now, India uses social media to bring awareness to an array of social issues.
Jensen, who aspires to study law and aims to address issues that lead to food insecurity, said, “My family has shown me that when we all stand together, we have a greater chance to liberate and empower countless lives. Kindness and giving back to others has been put at the top of my family’s priorities, and for this I am forever grateful.” She continued, “Regardless of our beliefs, I think we can all agree that human lives are sacred and must be nourished, cherished, and cared for. It should be all of our goals to protect this without any biases, restrictions or conditions.”
Hunger and the Pandemic
The COVID-19 health crisis has impacted the family in familiar ways. Working from home has become the norm and visits to limited family members follow social distance protocols. Jensen sums up the family’s mantra saying, “We can act as a helping hand to give folks what they deserve.”
To help address the nutritional needs of individuals and families during the pandemic, the Schmitt family provided additional support for Feeding America’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Said Sue, “I didn’t know how to help in these times. It just seemed like the best place to put our money and our efforts to help the world right now.” Further saying, “I feel a deep sense of fulfilment that Feeding America has helped us move the needle for people’s lives.”
We at Feeding America are grateful to be partners in the Schmitt family’s work to support individuals, children and families in their community and throughout the world. Their gifts have real and lasting impact to bring more food to people facing hunger.
*A donor advised fund, which is like a charitable savings account, offers the flexibility to recommend how much and how often money is granted to a qualified charity. Learn more about how a donor-advised fund can support your philanthropic goals, including supporting Feeding America.