LOVE Takes Root

LOVE Takes Root grew out of a medical mission trip that was taken by Dr. Rick Wilkerson to Port Au Prince, Haiti, in 2010. While working at a hospital, Dr. Wilkerson saw an adjacent shelter that was filled with children. He visited and spoke with “Mamma.” Mamma is a 70-year-old grandmother who is in the untenable position of feeding, housing, and caring for more than 50 orphaned children in a debris-covered make-shift tent with little food, clothing, and medical treatment available. Dr Rick Wilkerson went to Haiti on a medical mission trip, but he came home with a new mission in sight.

Upon returning to Iowa, Rick gathered family and friends together to share his concerns in an effort to develop a plan to support the orphanage.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Several things were discussed. The children had nothing to do all day except hang around. Many of them suffered from scabies, and their only form of bedding was a wool blanket. There weren’t enough dishes to feed all of the children at once, so they ate in shifts and they shared dishes. This was a major concern due to cholera and the fear of what that could mean to the children. Food was at a minimum and so was clean water.

What could be done from a small town in northwest Iowa? Lots! With a newfound awareness of these issues and needs, several people jumped in and got to work. Plates, bowls, and spoons were gathered so that each child in the orphanage could have their own. Fifty soft and colorful fleece blankets were embroidered with the names of each child, gifting the children with their first comforting possession. Lastly, paper, pencils, colored pencils, and pencil sharpeners were purchased to give the children something constructive to do. All of this was made possible through generous donations made by people who wanted to make a difference. The community rallied and, in the end, Dr. Rick was able to bring all of the items to Haiti to blanket the children in the orphanage with love.

From that start, LOVE Takes Root was born of a group of people back in Iowa organizing and planning a way to help this orphanage. The team is composed of educators, financial experts, medical personnel, realtors, small business owners, farmers, college students, lawyers, and community volunteers. Together, the team identified the need to cultivate the future of Children worldwide. The team started on a 501 (3) c and defined goals of sustainable resources for clean water, food, shelter, with a value of education. The first project for LOVE Takes Root was identified in Haiti.

An LTR Board was formed and work started by a large group of dedicated volunteers. Many mentoring trips to Haiti were started in June 2011. The goal of having a partnership, not in country leadership, was realized.

A unique component of LOVE Takes Root projects is our hope and expectation that each project, upon attaining self-sustainability, provides whatever financial support it can to the next LOVE Takes Root project.  We hope to build a chain of communities across the world that is united in their desire to help children in need, wherever they may be.

Our Valuable Board Members

  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Team Physician, Buena Vista University
  • Medical Director, Sports Medicine
  • Northwest Senior Partner, Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint and Sports Surgeons, PC Spencer
  • Iowa International medical missions and educator since 1990 having worked in Afghanistan 1990, 1993 and 2001; Bhutan 1995 and 2006; Cambodia 1995; Vietnam 1999; Uganda 2008; and Iraq 1-2 times per year since 2004; most recently in Haiti, multiple trips since 2010
  • Associated with Health Volunteers Overseas, International Medical Corps and Medical Alliance to Iraq
  • Co-founder of Love Takes Root
  • Vice-President, Arts on Grand Board Member
  • Spencer Community Theater Volunteer
  • Art Aide, Sacred Heart School
  • Dealer-Owner, H & N Chevrolet-Buick
  • Co-Director, Farmers Trust and Savings Bank (28 years)
  • Member, Clay County Veterans Affairs Commission
  • Past Moderator (3 two-year terms), Chairman Board of Trustees, Financial Secretary (Current for 8 years)First Congregational Church of Spencer, Iowa
  • Bank Strategies Office, EVP for Northwest Bank
  • Iowa native, graduating from Spencer High School in 1996
  • Attended Cornell College Mt. Vernon, IA with a degree in Business and Finance
  • Enjoys woodworking, working at my hobby farm, and spending time with family
  • Three children: Paul (13), Nora (10), and Ada (8)
  • Retired kindergarten teacher, 27 years with the Spencer Community School District
  • ECSE Classroom Assistant, AEA
  • Physical Therapy Assistant,  AEA
  • Teaching Endorsement, Buena Vista University
  • B.S. Degree in Physical Education and Sociology from Dordt College
  • HR Consultant – Ag1Source
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management
  • Designated PHR/SHRM-CP (10 years of service in human resource roles)
  • President for his local SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) chapter, board member for his local YMCA and on a board of elders for his local church.
  • Relator, Okoboji Iowa
  • BBA from University of Iowa, MBA from Creighton
  • Okoboji City Council member for 17 years
  • Okoboji Yacht Club Director for 30 years
  • Okoboji Protective Association Director for 35 years
  • Past President of Spirit Lake Indian Booster Club
  • Former Dickinson County Republican Chairman
  • Iowa Scholarship Fund Director – University of Iowa
  • Producer of ‘Nutrameal’ (soy/corn based, 100% nutritional food product, manufactured for third-world countries)
  • Primary organizer in Lakes Region for Kids Against Hunger
  • CPA, CVA Williams and Company PC
  • Retired Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, worked for University of Iowa, Child Health Specialty Clinics
  • Adjunct Professor, Denver School of Nursing as Community Health Clinical Instructor
  • Middle School teacher First Congregational Church
  • Past Board President YMCA  Spencer, Iowa
  • Board member of Community Housing Initiative
  • Past Board President of Early Childhood Iowa