Mentoring. Leading. Caring.

News | October 5, 2016

St. Paul women founded two nonprofits this year, focused on girls and women. Lead(H)er matches young professional women with mentors in the community. The Legacy Project QC pairs girls who have lost their moms with women who experienced the same. Melissa Pepper and Laura Torgerud are the founders. They’ve surrounded their idea with board members and community support. Through all of the paperwork, branding, website building, event planning, training, fundraising, and networking, the Quad Cities is now home to two new 501(c)(3)s.

Lead(H)er: Striking matches

Melissa Pepper loves the Quad Cities. After graduating from Augustana College, she was pretty sure this was the place she wanted her family to take root. Melissa, who has worked at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center and Lane & Waterman, is happiest when she is making connections, building relationships.

Then an idea came: why not start a nonprofit to help young women connect with others here, so they stay here and contribute their talents here? And Lead(H)er was born.

The mission? To connect young professional women with experienced leaders to fuel career and community engagement. “Matches” are chosen based on what mentees are seeking – type of experience, career advice, a wider network, or leadership roles in the community.

“This community has been good to me,” Melissa said. “I could go somewhere else, but the community is one important aspect of what keeps me here.”

Melissa started having lots of conversations with Quad City leaders. They poked holes in her idea, gave her great feedback (“I got to drink a lot of coffee,” Melissa said). She recruited a board of talented people, and they went to work. At a recent kick-off party, Royal Neighbors awarded Melissa $10,000 to really get Lead(H)er off the ground – that includes hiring the organization’s first staff member.

Sarah Stevens, also a St. Paul member, was recently named executive director of Lead(H)er. Board member Laura Sivertsen also is a member. “Who leaves a successful career in healthcare with only a spark of hope that there is something else for which you were intended?” Sarah said. “As it turns out, I do. Or did. I leapt at the notion that life was supposed to feel bigger than it felt. Lead(H)er is the net that caught me.”

She is astonished at the amount of energy and momentum the organization has gathered in a short time with minimal resources.

“Imagine what we will be capable of as we work to harness all of this energy and create a network of people who are dedicated to fueling the career and community engagement of young women in this community. The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.”

In the short term, the most important job is to get really good at making strong matches and measuring outcomes. So far, a great mix of women are signing up to be mentors and mentees. They come from a range of backgrounds, including nonprofits, for profits, small organizations, large corporations.

Long term, Melissa’s hope is that Lead(H)er will become a model for anyone in the nation who wants to start a similar initiative.

“Let’s empower women all over to dig into their communities,” she said. And what is she most excited about for the future? “I can hardly wait to hear the stories of matches made.”

To learn more about Lead(H)er, visit leadherqc.org.

The Legacy Project: Guiding through grief

The hardest part of losing her mom came in the quiet.

“After the hustle and bustle of the funeral, the cards and visits dwindled. No one outside of my family talked about mom anymore,” Laura Torgerud says. If she could go back to being an 11-year-old motherless girl, knowing what she knows now, here’s what she would ask for:

Stories: Silly or serious, give me stories about my mom. If you don’t mind, write them down for me. I may not fully appreciate them at this moment, but I will cherish them later. I’ll take mom stories months or years later, too.

Talk: Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean she should be forgotten. Please don’t assume that she’s too hard to talk about, and that healing equals ignoring.

Journey: Losing a parent as a child is not a journey often traveled. Who can prepare for something like this? I can’t. But at the end of the day, I just want to be like my friends. I want to take one day at a time. And while this is an important piece of my life story, I don’t want to be defined by my loss. I’d like it if you treat me like Sally next door.

Laura is one of the founders of The Legacy Project QC. St. Paul member Nicole Rathje is the chairperson of the board and Kelly McCollough is the secretary. All are involved with St. Paul’s Motherless Daughters group.

The Legacy Project was born to help protect the legacy of mothers lost by school-aged girls up through young adulthood.

“We see that the life of a mom should never, ever be forgotten, discounted or moved on from. The woman who loved her daughter more than life itself deserves to live on. Forever.”

Trained mentors and companions will walk alongside motherless girls and young women of the Quad Cities. They will assist them in cultivating a lasting legacy while they navigate the journey of mother loss. The Legacy Project recently earned its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and sent Laura to a training specific to learning about grief in children. They are planning to make their first
matches in the coming months, with the help of area churches and schools.

Nicole’s mom, Debbie Meyer, died after a battle with leukemia when Nicole was 29 years old. Nicole’s daughter, Sage, was born seven weeks before Debbie’s death.

“She was everybody’s friend, and everybody’s mentor,” said Nicole, who is the president of the board. “She was easy to talk to, funny, compassionate, fair, hard-working, and an amazing Christian.”

The most important aspect of The Legacy Project is mentors giving girls the opportunity to honor their mothers and build their legacy through activities they like to do – such as work on a memory blanket, baking a favorite recipe of their mom’s, or going to a community event their mom loved to attend, Nicole said. The hope is to hold larger group events as well.

“Mothers are such a special person in a girl’s life, and a void that can’t be filled. But we’re going to do the best we can to help these girls remember their moms well,” Nicole said.

To learn more about The Legacy Project, visit thelegacyprojectqc.com.

One comment on “Mentoring. Leading. Caring.”

  • October 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    […] The Legacy Project was featured on the blog of St. Paul Lutheran Church, as well as their October magazine, Journey. You can read the piece here. […]

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”