Change Makers

Finding a purpose to fulfill

Sherrie Woodring listens to a roundtable discussion at a 2017 conference in California about the Every Last One campaign.

After a robust 26-year career in information technology, Sherrie Woodring was exhausted from the demands of corporate America. Then her mother, Leila, suffered a severe stroke and required full-time care. So Leila moved in with Sherrie.

Though the new journey was radically different than what Sherrie had accomplished professionally, the two discovered an unexpected satisfaction in their new life together. On the most difficult days, Sherrie’s mother would ask what so many who suffer ask: “Why me?” Gently, humbly, Sherrie would answer, “There’s a purpose that needs to be fulfilled. We’ll have to see.”

Sherrie had been sponsoring children through World Vision: first one, then three, then six. The faithful pen pal began to notice how her mother connected with the children, especially through the photos with their mothers, and would ask questions. Seeing these mothers struggle to provide for their children broke Leila’s heart.

Sherrie, the consummate businesswoman, knew they could do more. She donated to help them start businesses. The women received several letters a week from these precious families. Sherrie explains, “We walked the journey with them, and they walked the journey with my mom’s illness. They were attached, through letters.”

When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting broke the world’s heart at the end of 2012, Sherrie and her mother increased their commitment to sponsor 26 children, representing the victims of the shooting. In the wake of so many children’s lives being cut short, Sherrie wanted to help ensure that children around the world had the chance to live.

Then Sherrie’s world shifted seismically once again when her mother passed in 2014. She picked up the phone to call World Vision, interested in identifying a program that could empower families to start small businesses. After a Vision Trip to Tanzania and the Dominican Republic, where she met many families of farmers, Sherrie joined the National Leadership Council and began offering her time and talents to World Vision’s economic empowerment programs.

Her passion is to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable rural households through a biblically empowered worldview message; access to improved agricultural technology, knowledge, and fair markets; and access to small loans to finance diverse forms of resilient, sustainable income. All of this is for the direct benefit of children’s well-being. Sherrie’s most recent passion is for World Vision’s Recovery Lending for Resilience program, which provides poor families with recovery business loans to bounce back from economic challenges caused by shocks like COVID-19.

That’s the purpose Sherrie and her mother are now fulfilling.

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