The Catholic Community of St. Francis models itself as a community of service. This service is not just within and through our parish ministries but to larger communities worldwide. The parish draws those who live as stewards to others, and the Throndson family models this mindset. Tim and Joann Throndson have been active parish members at St. Francis since 1988 and have contributed to the parish in various roles. Tim is active on the Finance Council, even serving as chairperson, and has been on the Church Building Committee, several other parish councils, and the marriage ministry. Joann also volunteered for the marriage ministry, worked on the formation committee to start the St. Francis Preschool, was on the Preschool Advisory Council, spent eight years as a teacher there, and has substitute taught at the school for the past several years and hopes to continue doing so.
Tim grew up in Iowa, and his mother, Flo Throndson, was someone who “lived a life of service to others, from raising fifteen children to volunteering for countless community organizations. In the eyes of many, she was a model steward. She was a force for change in the world,” according to Betty Throndson, Tim’s sister. Betty is also the President of the Project Flo Association, a charitable organization started by Flo’s children as a tribute to the inspired life of service modeled by their mother. The organization started as a ministry of the local Catholic church, Holy Name Parish, in New Hampton, Iowa, in 2011. While Flo’s children created the organization in memory of her and as a tribute to their mother, it has taken on a life of its own. Volunteers working on the charitable effort now include family members, community members, friends of Flo from various states, individuals who simply heard about the project and wanted to contribute, and, importantly, previous beneficiaries of Project Flo.
Founded on the principles Flo modeled during her life, Project Flo serves the needs of families in Chickasaw County, Iowa, by cleaning, repairing, and restoring their residences. Every year, two to five families in the community are selected, and their personal homes go through a one-week transformation. First, a tremendous amount of planning is done to determine the improvements that will significantly impact the family’s lives. The project is then scoped, money to complete the project is raised, the schedule for cleaning, repairing, and restoring the residences is put together, and volunteer commitments are solicited. Project Flo has devised many ways to serve the family, recognizing that the gifts of each person willing to serve are unique. While all participants contribute to the project by sharing different amounts of time, talent, or treasure – each and every contribution is equally important and is treated as such.
Tim recalls a visit to one project. “As I approached the house being renovated by the Project Flo Association, the first thing I noticed was a flurry of construction activity. But as I pulled up to the front, I couldn’t miss the sign that read, ‘Project Flo – Be the Change You Want to See in the World.’ That is exactly what the Project Flo Association was doing. Volunteers were busy repairing and shingling roofs, repairing siding, installing new windows and doors, caulking, landscaping, painting, and performing general household repairs to the houses of two Project Flo benefactors. But more importantly, the volunteers were changing lives.”
While less obvious to the casual observer, another building effort goes with each Project Flo project that will impact the community for many years to come. “We’ve found that beneficiaries of past projects want to be involved in future projects. These families find a way to be involved in future projects given their skills, talents, and abilities. Their gifts are shared and put to good use during the project. As a result, more and more community members are involved, in a significant way, every year. After some time, the impact becomes exponential”, according to Betty Throndson.
St. Francis draws in people like Tim and Joann Throndson, people who come to the parish because they found a home here…a home for those experienced in, and ready to continue, their tradition of serving others through their faith. Tim and his siblings were formed by their mother, Flo. The benefit of that formation continues at St. Francis through Tim and Joann’s ethic of service and their enthusiasm for continuing their faith journey here to benefit others in their family’s tradition. We hope you also find your home here at St. Francis, and you, too, can see your calling in the tradition of Christ’s counsel to love thy neighbor as yourself. To learn more about Project Flo, look here to find service opportunities at St. Francis.
Arthur: Mike Watson