Mary Joy and Jerre Stead give $1 million gift to Imagine No Malaria

April 25, 2014

Mary Joy and Jerre Stead have given a $1 million gift to Imagine No Malaria.  They recently donated $500,000 to both the Iowa and Rocky Mountain Annual Conferences to support the United Methodist initiative to raise $75 million to fight Malaria in Africa.

“This is an example of what we like to invest in, because it makes such a difference for so many people,” Jerre Stead said during an interview on the eve of World Malaria Day.  “Five or six years ago Bill Gates and I were talking about the many projects that the Gates Foundation invests in…(eradicating Malaria) was my first interest.”  Two years later “we took our second granddaughter to Africa…visiting seven different countries.  It seemed like such an important place to give.  At the time we were there and paying a lot of attention to the opportunity to help on Malaria,” Mr. Stead added.  He was also motivated by “friends in Africa and India and other places that have had suffered from Malaria, and still are.”

Giving has been a way of life for Jerre and Mary Joy Stead for a long time.  “From the time I was nine years old with a paper route, a third of my income went to the church.  Both my Gramma Stead and Nanna Grindrod always tithed.  To me, that’s something that we’ve always been inspired by.  From the time we were married we tithed, because we grew up that way.  We always had a goal that if we were ever blessed with enough to give much more than that we would do it because of seeing what wonderful people, at the grass roots level, can do and what an incredible difference it makes.”

From the humble beginnings of the paper route at age 9 Mr. Stead went on to become the CEO of seven companies over his career, ending with a successful 13-year tenure at IHS, Inc., a Colorado information and analytics firm. The Denver Post named him Business Person of the Year for 2013.  He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary for the past eight years.  And it was in that capacity that he met fellow Board member Bishop Julius Trimble, the United Methodist Resident Bishop of the Stead’s home state of Iowa.  Now, as active United Methodists in Colorado, the Steads have come to know Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who presides over the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Describing it as “a wonderful session,” Mr. Stead recalls, “The two Bishops visited my office, almost two years ago.”  The Bishops invited the Steads to support the Imagine No Malaria effort, something that “seemed like a perfect fit.”  “What’s so good about this effort,” Mr. Stead added, “is that the maximum amount of change gets to the maximum amount of people.  This is just a great program.”

For the Steads, there are three criteria for “our giving.  How do we get the maximum amount of change, by investing in an effort like this one, to the maximum amount of people.  Two, I’m hopeful that our giving and investment will make a difference for other people to also participate.  It doesn’t really matter if it’s a dollar or a thousand dollars or a hundred thousand…it’s just a great effort that needs to happen.  And three, this is a very good example of what I like to see, and Mary Joy does too, by The United Methodist Church, which is helping great causes around the world and not being internally focused but externally focused to make a difference.”

The Imagine No Malaria effort continues a long tradition of making a difference. For almost 200 years, United Methodists have operated hospitals and clinics throughout Africa. These facilities are a vital and trusted part of the health-care delivery system on the continent. The Imagine No Malaria approach focuses on four key areas: prevention, education, communication and treatment.

Just a few years ago, statistics showed a child died every 30 seconds of Malaria. The United Methodist Church has worked with global partners such as the United Nations Foundation, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, and the death rate has dropped to one every 60 seconds.

To continue the effort to eradicate Malaria, The United Methodist Church, as a whole, has raised more than $61 million in pledges and gifts to fight the disease. The denomination’s goal is to raise at least $75 million by 2015.

“Jerre and Mary Joy Stead know they have been blessed by God and that they can make a difference for others,” said Bishop Elaine Stanovsky. “They know first-hand the ravages of Malaria in Africa. Their gift will save the lives of children who will become leaders in Africa."

"We can imagine a day in our lifetime when Malaria deaths in Africa will no longer be a major health concern," said Bishop Julius Trimble of the Iowa Annual Conference. "On behalf of all the partners in Iowa joined together in this campaign, I say thank you."

“Most gifts are in the $10-$20 range,” said Sheri Altland, campaign director for Imagine No Malaria. “A gift of $1 million can inspire others. It creates its own buzz and its own awareness. It keeps the momentum going.”

Expressing deep appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of lives that will be saved by their most generous gift, Bishop Trimble said, “Because of their Iowa roots and deep faith commitment through The United Methodist Church, when invited to give the Steads responded.

"Our campaign in Iowa has been driven by those who heard to call and chose to answer in whatever way they could," Rev. Katie Dawson, the Iowa Conference Imagine No Malaria Coordinator noted.  "Whether that was hundreds of thousands of dollars or a classroom of students collecting their change...every gift is helping to save lives and together, we will end needless deaths from malaria."

“Where better can you make a bigger difference than by gifting through The United Methodist Church to attack a global issue,” Mr. Stead asked.  “There aren’t very many places that allow investments like this…the funding will make a huge difference down the road…what The United Methodist Church has raised will help put this global issue (Malaria) behind us.”

Click here to listen to Jerre Stead talk about the gift from his wife and himself

Story written by Arthur McClanahan and Edwin Acevedo, who interviewed Mr. Stead by phone as he and Mrs. Stead were vacationing in New Zealand.