By Dan Montgomery
Last month’s enCircle Board of Directors meeting was the first for two new members: Christina O'Neill, a member of First Lutheran Church in Norfolk's Ghent neighborhood, and Rev. Christopher Carr, pastor of First English Lutheran Church in Richmond's Fan District.
O'Neill was recruited to the Board by a friend in high places, her former pastor – and current enCircle Board Chairman, Rev. Rick Goeres.
"I spent a lot of time discussing the organization and its related programs, and the thought that kept coming to mind was how incredibly generous of an organization enCircle is," O'Neill says.
She felt a connection: "I think it is fair to say that if you asked someone who knew my family well to describe our family, one word that would likely come to mind is 'generous.' So when I was asked to join the Board, it seemed like a natural fit to try to use my time to help enCircle be as generous as possible."
Rev. Christopher Carr’s enCircle connections stretch back many years.
"I was first attracted to enCircle 20 years ago, when I was serving as pastor of my first congregation, near Harrisonburg," he says. "I got to see firsthand the good work that was being done at the Minnick Center at that time."
Fast forward to the 2020s, and Carr is pastor at First English, where classroom space was considered for an enCircle school serving unaccompanied immigrant children.
"Although our building did not meet all the requirements for that particular program, it rekindled my interest in enCircle and my hope that we could work together," Carr says. "When I was approached about potential service on the Board of Directors, I was thrilled."
O'Neill and Carr say they care both about enCircle programs and the people behind those programs – the employees.
The workers O'Neill has met so far are 'incredibly professional, dedicated, enthusiastic and kind,' she says. "I cannot wait to get to know everyone and support the workforce in any way I can!"
Carr is particularly struck by CEO Ray Ratke’s expressed goal to the best place each employee has ever worked.
"That sort of attitude inspires everyone to do and give their best because they know that they are valued," he says.