A Spark of Generosity is Growing to Honor Connie Luce
Connie Luce made sure that the young people at Bashor Children’s Home got a great Thanksgiving meal.
Donors have made sure that the tradition will continue for years to come and that every meal, not just the one at the holiday, comes out of Connie’s Kitchen.
Connie was a volunteer at Bashor for more than 30 years and the head cook and decorator for the holiday for 27 years. Connie died August 13, 2020, after living with a glioblastoma brain tumor for more than one and a half years.
A couple, who wishes to remain anonymous, honored her by creating an endowed fund at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County to cover the costs for the meal annually, as well as upgrading the kitchen. That bit of generosity has sparked the giving of time and money that continues to grow exponentially — the same way Connie’s love for others grew.
“She was a remarkable person. She touched people others couldn’t,” says one of the donors of their longtime friend. “We need more Connies. We really do.”
She had combined her love of cooking with her passion for helping young people. Her calling was to help kids through tough situations, says Mick Luce, her husband of 46 years. That meant regularly visiting the Bashor campus to be with the young people and supporting the staff who helped them on a daily basis. It was just one of the places she gave of herself and her time.
She started the Thanksgiving meal when she saw a need. Over time, the meal with all the traditional fixings grew to feed 150 people. The young people at Bashor can even go up for seconds — something that isn’t usually allowed.
“She was a remarkable person. She touched people others couldn’t. We need more Connies. We really do.”— Anonymous Donor honoring Connie Luce’s Legacy
In 2020, Mick and their son, Matthew, went to help Marty Blenner, the chef for Bashor, prepare and serve in shifts to smaller groups due to the pandemic.
In February, Matthew came home from work and found his father puttering in their den. He told his father to get out of the recliner and go help at Bashor. So now, on Saturdays and Sundays, Mick is usually in Connie’s Kitchen at Bashor helping serve lunch and dinner.
The son reminded the father of the need to show up, to keep helping others the way their mom and wife did. “I’m glad Matthew came home and yelled at me that day,” says Mick.
The generosity of the donor setting up the endowed fund and the ongoing involvement at Bashor led Mick and Matthew to set up the Connie Luce Aftercare Fund at KeyBank. When a young person leaves Bashor, they often need a few things to help them get settled and the fund covers those purchases. Connie assured those expenses were covered the last few years of her life and now the fund will help that continue.
Matthew and Mick seeded the fund on her birthday in May 2021 and other donors have helped it grow four-fold.
In her 66 years, Connie showed her family and friends how to help others. They continue to find their way by giving back.
This story appeared in the 2021 Annual Report.