It was a normal workday for Josh Spencer. As Chief Actuary and Associate Vice President at Brotherhood Mutual, Josh doesn’t often struggle to connect the dots between dollars given and impact created. He’s got a gift of seeing the world through numbers, and it’s that talent that brought him to Brotherhood Mutual, a company exclusively focused on serving Christian schools, camps and churches throughout the country.
As a result, the idea of influence through acts of service certainly wasn’t new to him. He knew (and believed) that we are called to serve those both within and beyond our communities. But when he heard Andrew Hoffman, NeighborLink’s Executive Director, speak at a chapel service, he heard something different—something that caught his ear and moved his heart.
“He spoke about our call to love our neighbors,” says Spencer. “Lots of us would agree with loving our neighbors in a philosophical sense, but Andrew localized it, forcing us to think about what it looks like for our next door neighbors—to put a face, a name, a story, an actual address with a pressing need. That was powerful.”
While Brotherhood Mutual hasn’t had a long-term relationship with NeighborLink, many in the organization have known Hoffman and the organization for years. Spencer says he’s watched how local homeowners and volunteers have been impacted by NeighborLink’s mission. “Last year alone, more than 600 families were served by NeighborLink volunteers,” Spencer says. As a man immersed in numbers every day, calculating the ripple effects of such interactions still boggles his mind. “It’s just huge in a community of this size, and it’s been happening for years,” he says.
A Likely Merging of Missions
When deciding to support NeighborLink, it wasn’t a stretch for the Brotherhood Mutual Foundation to see the link between NeighborLink’s vision and Brotherhood’s own organizational mission. For the last century, Brotherhood has operated profitably, and out of that growth, it aims to support Christian groups that might find themselves excluded from other possible sources of funding due to their mission-centered philosophies.
“From day one, we’ve always been focused on missional/faith-related causes in Fort Wayne—and even around the country,” Spencer says.
He recounts how the Foundation helped to send a group to Haiti in order to rebuild houses after the earthquake. While they were pouring foundations, they were also preaching the gospel, and this was something they didn’t have to hide or explain away when applying for funding with Brotherhood Mutual.
“There are so many organizations that we could support throughout Allen County,” says Spencer. “We look at the intent of the dollars, the organization’s track record, longevity and experience, financials, staff size—all of it helps determine level of need.”
For the most part, however, Spencer says the majority of Brotherhood Mutual’s funding stays local—and that’s what made supporting NeighborLink so sensible. In the years since NeighborLink launched its very first project, more than 8,000 projects have been completed in Allen County. The concept of neighbor helping neighbor has spread throughout neighborhoods, and the tangible proof of those actions is evident through roofs that no longer leak, stairs that have been turned into accessible wheelchair ramps, and furnaces that keep young babies warm through the winter. From the road, the repairs seem so simple, but when you step beyond the front door of each home, you hear story after story of how small things changed neighborhoods.
This, says Spencer, is what makes NeighborLink such a unique and powerful organization.