Mike Hoffman taught children in Milton for 30 years before retiring in 2019.
But his concern for young people and families continues to reach around the world.
Since 2010, the Milton man has volunteered with the Lake Geneva-based Children’s World Impact.
Hoffman usually dodges the spotlight.
But recently, the charity presented him its annual Impact Award for his efforts in Ghana and Haiti.
The recognition is given to a person or group working to break the cycle of poverty among widows and orphans.
“He’s a modest man,” said Judy Moser, a member of the Children’s World Impact Board of Directors. “If we had given the award to him while he served on the board, he would have refused.”
Hoffman served on the board from 2012 to 2018.
The charity is honored that Hoffman “has been able to put so much of his time and energy into Children’s World Impact,” Moser said. “We probably wouldn’t look the same without him.”
Hoffman is the main contact in the United States for the charity in Africa.
His connection to Ghana began in 2006, when he first traveled to the country to lead workshops in math for African schoolteachers.
While in Ghana, he met a Catholic brother intent on helping struggling widows and their children in the village of Ullo.
Hoffman returned home with a new purpose.
He was determined to start a charitable group to raise money for the effort.
Then he realized one already existed.
Hoffman met with Tyson Ray, co-founder of Children’s World Impact, who suggested his group could help.
Eventually, the organization began a project in Ghana to help widows become self-supporting.
Children’s World Impact financed the construction of a building with equipment to process indigenous shay nuts into butter for cooking, bake bread and bag water. Widows sell the items to earn money.
The charity also sponsored construction of a well so women can grow crops to feed their families and to sell.
Over the years, the effort has grown, thrived and become self-sustaining. Today, it supports women from seven villages in the upper west region of Ghana.
Tyson and Jenny Ray started Children’s World Impact in 2006.
They turned their independent family foundation into a public charity after visiting Haiti in 2010 after a catastrophic earthquake.
Over the years, the group has supplied food and has built homes, schools and a medical clinic. Most recently, it began funding micro-loans for women in Ghana to help them start or broaden businesses.
Moser said the charity has been successful because it is grounded in reality.
“Our job always has been to look for places where bigger organizations may not go,” she said.
“We work with the locals. We look for a contractor that is local and hires local people. All our projects are connected with the people first.”
Hoffman praises the charity for a policy that calls for 100% of all donations to go for the purposes they are intended. Board members and founders underwrite all administrative costs.
Hoffman, who is running for school board in Milton, is committed to helping others because “my faith tells me it is our calling to give to others, especially the marginalized in the world.”
“Sometimes, we look at service as something we have to do,” he said. “I don’t look at it like that. I see it as something I am allowed to do because I am in a position to give.”
He said opportunities to help abound in our own backyards and across the world.
“I’ve been very blessed in my own life, and it helps to pay it forward,” Hoffman said. “I’d like to believe if everyone dug in and did a little bit, we really could change the world.”
Anna Marie Lux is a Sunday columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email email@example.com.