How It All Began

In 2008, I had made the decision to leave my job as the senior pastor of St. Christopher’s Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and return to full-time work as a marriage and family therapist. It was at that time that I had lunch with a dear friend of mine, Ab Nicholas. Ab was one of the finest men I know, and he was asking me all about my future plans. Eventually, our conversation turned to families and the stresses they face in the 21st century. I expressed my continued desire to help strengthen families: more families than I had been able to reach in my years of either being a therapist or in my then current job of being a rector of a parish.

My dream, I explained, was to create programs meant to support and empower families which would be based on the knowledge I had acquired through the tens of thousands of hours I had spent talking with families as a therapist, as a pastor, and most importantly as a father of three grown children. These programs could be delivered in all kinds of communities and would strengthen and empower the families, as well as the communities and other institutions that care about those families.

Ab listened carefully and asked me what stopped me from creating such programs. I explained that both time and money were needed to create a program that could really make a difference and be far-reaching. I went on to explain that I didn’t have enough of either to do the task justice. He smiled quietly and suggested that maybe he and his wife Nancy could help.

The seed of the Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation was planted at that luncheon, and I will be eternally thankful to Ab and Nancy for their for their open listening and interest in this dream and for their generosity and trust. Now several years later, I am confident that communities and families are benefiting from Ab and Nancy’s vision and generosity and will for years to come.

Sadly, Ab passed away in the summer of 2016, yet his legacy lives on. We are even more dedicated than ever to serve communities and families in his honor.

The Rev. Dr. D. Scott Stoner, LMFT