By: M. Diane McCormick; Photography by Alan Wycheck
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Dream Big, Listen, Embrace History, Dance Away, Govern the People and Help Children. The 2012 SAGE award winners have channeled lives of service into fulfillment of their dreams and obligations through teaching, leadership, dance and mission work.
J- Lynn Conrady
“Tell me about your dreams.”
The Messiah College students mentored by J-Lynn Conrady hear that phrase often. He is advisor for the Micro-Economic Development Group of Messiah College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research. “Students,” he says, “want to grow and want to be contributors to the culture around them.”
To make those contributions and build good moral judgment, he says, they must methodically pursue their dreams.
“We don’t dream big enough when we think about what we want to do when we get out of college,” says Conrady, retired administrative manager of a large printing and folding plant in Ohio. “I ask them repeatedly to talk to me about what you think you’d like to do. What’s your dream? Dream big, and talk to me about your big dreams.”
Since 2008, Conrady has helped the Micro-Economic Development Group establish micro-finance banks in Zambia. He mentors students, establishes budgets and helps plan trips to the southern African country, sometimes traveling with the group. His association with Zambia began with mission trips in 2005. He helped develop accounting systems. His wife, Harriet, worked in libraries.
“Once you’re there, you want to go back again,” he says. “I could go back tomorrow. Part of my heart’s still there.”
Conrady said he learned from the wonderful people of Zambia that there’s more to life than just dollars and cents. Still, Zambia’s impoverished citizens need money for the usual reasons – to start businesses, pay for education, finance medical emergencies – but no banks will touch them. The Collaboratory has founded several institutions, where each member pitches in a minuscule amount. “Maybe $2 a month,” says Conrady. “Peanutty by our standards.” Then they can earn the right to borrow.
“We have not experienced any nonrepayment of any of the loans,” he says. “They’re very honest and faithful.” The Micro-Economic Development Group is working, step by step, toward similar Harrisburg-area efforts. “We have a home-run mentality,” he says. “We want to hit a home run every time, and it’s not that. It’s being available for the little things. You do it today, you do it next week, you do it the following weeks and, all of a sudden, you build this backlog of having spent time together, and that reaps benefits down the road.”
It never entered Conrady’s mind that retirement would include founding banks in Zambia. “But a door opens, you walk through it,” he says. “And you say, ‘Yes, I think I can do that. Let’s try.’”
“This is bringing results,” he says, “and, as long as I think I have something to contribute, I will stick with this.”
Ronald J. Drnevich
If there’s one thing Ronald Drnevich has learned from sitting on boards in higher education, health care, multiple sclerosis, military heritage and banking, it’s the art of listening. Take his tenure on the Capital BlueCross board, when he was a board member and senior executive vice president. Drnevich, an engineer by training, was CEO and chairman of Gannet Fleming, but he had to learn the complexities of health care.
“It’s like filling your head with a fire hose,” he says. “You think you’ve got it figured out, but sometimes you have to keep listening. Listening has become a pretty significant effort for me. That’s the other side of communication.”
He has overseen growth and change in regional institutions. “I’m what you might call a steadier,” he says. “Somebody that brings people together and resolves conflict, and a driver towards teamwork. Nothing happens by yourself anymore.” Drnevich is a Pittsburgh native and University of Notre Dame graduate who believes that education – whether through college or other post-secondary options – helps young people find good jobs and pursue their talents. For more than 12 years, he has served on the board of Lebanon Valley College.
“Faith-based private colleges are wonderful places, and I think they need to be preserved.”
“LVC is a great school,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful 12 or 14 years. It’s taken a lot of effort to make sure your kids will get value for those dollars spent. My interest is in the viability of a college like LVC to be successful and stay true to its mission. That’s not an easy thing all the time.” As a parish council member for the Holy Name Church, Drnevich recruited Gannet Fleming to prepare a site concept plan for a new church. Many area Catholic churches were originally built as schools with gyms where Masses were held, he says. Holy Name was the last parish to build a separate church – a lovely house of worship that opened in December 2011.
“That was a wonderful, wonderful achievement for the parish,” he says. “I don’t think people realized how nice a new church would be. It’s a different dynamic.”
Drnevich and his wife, Kathie, live in rural West Hanover Township. He hopes that he has made a difference in the community. “It’s subtle,” he says. “It’s not like I’m going to be the leader here. This is what you do. If you can share, you share it. And it’s not like I don’t enjoy it. I do like people.” Plus, his involvement in many causes continues. “I’m kind of not retired,” he says.
When Mark Hagenbuch re-enacts the battles and camps of the American Revolution and Civil War, there are no ice chests or sunglasses around. He wears the clothing that soldiers wore. He carries one backpack, one blanket and sleeps on the ground. He admits that it’s not always pleasant, but he gets a feel for the soldier’s life and death.
Plus, there’s the occasional moment – such as a recent re-enactment of the Battle of the Sunken Road at Antietam – when the experience seems real.
“I was one of those 100 men who went down, so we could watch the battle unfold around us,” he says. “To look down that road – and I’ve seen the Matthew Brady photos of the real thing – it looked like the real thing. That gives you chills.”
Hagenbuch is a retired history teacher and elementary school principal who now plows his educational energies into making history come alive.
He is president of the Northern York County Historical Society and one of the people behind the restoration of Dill’s Tavern in Dillsburg. He coordinates events in the 18th-century crossroads tavern – first Friday gatherings, farmers’ fairs, military re-enactments – to bring history alive for an ever-widening audience. Plans are underway to revive the site’s former whiskey distillery that rivaled George Washington’s in output.
“You need to come. It is better than Williamsburg,” Hagenbuch says. “It is much smaller, but that’s what’s good about it. It’s not touristy. You can use everything within the tavern. The grounds are wonderful. We have a beehive oven. We have a wheelwright’s shop. We have a log barn that’s being rebuilt on the site.”
To Hagenbuch, history teems with color and the stories of people that need to be shared. Re-enacting as a Scottish soldier in the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment during the Revolutionary War, he shares the British perspective. Reading the Declaration of Independence to Pathways Institute students, he gets tears in his eyes.
The courses with Pathways Institute, Messiah Lifeways’ continuing education courses, began with a class on the French and Indian War and evolved into a popular series on the birth of the United States. For every class, Hagenbuch wears clothes – don’t call them costumes, because that’s not what they were to the people who once lived in them – drawn from four closets packed with 18th- and 19th-century garb and gear. His wife, Linda, sews many of his pieces.
“It’s worn and dirty, and there are patches, because I don’t throw anything out,” he says. “I just patch it up because that’s what they would have done.”
Hagenbuch says he is serious about sharing history in a humorous way.
“History is educational. It’s fun. It’s a living-type thing,” he says. “It can be a very personal thing. I really had a blessed life so far.”