"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
― Winston Churchhill
It's been said the most generous people are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.
A UNMC couple -- Teresa and Matt Clark -- fits that description to a T.
For more than 25 years, the Clarks have quietly been huge supporters of the Heart Ministry Center, which is affiliated with their longtime church -- Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Clarks go out and buy hundreds of items that are included as side dishes for holiday dinners that the Heart Ministry Center provides to needy families.
It's a labor of love.
"We're not rich by any means. We're just normal people," said Teresa Clark, longtime administrative associate for Rod Markin, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for business development and director of UNeTech.
"We save all year to do this," said Matt Clark, a zone facility technician for facilities management and planning. "Buying food for other people's holidays is how we like to spend our money. It has become our holiday tradition. It is how we celebrate."
The Clarks have been married for 23 years and have known each other for more than 35 years. They long ago stopped buying each other birthday or Christmas gifts. They would much rather save their money and use it to buy food for needy families.
Their generosity comes back to them many times over in the appreciation that the families show when they receive the food baskets.
One of Teresa's favorite memories occurred several years ago. "My sister (Diana Schneider in the UNMC College of Nursing) and I delivered a basket to a family, and the little girl exclaimed, 'Oh boy! We get to eat all week long.'"
Turns out one of the benefits of charitable giving is that it's contagious.
"It's inspired other people in our family to donate," Teresa said. "Matt's mom wanted to buy stuff. Our son, Kyle, gave to the fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina. My sister runs the Adopt-a-Family program for the College of Nursing.
"Honestly, we would much rather not be highlighted in this story. The only reason we agreed to do it was that we hoped it would encourage others to get behind their own cause."
Perhaps Eric Crawford, CEO of Heart Ministry Center, captured the spirit of the Clarks best. "They are selfless and caring. The world could use more people like them."
Can't say it much better than that.
Very heartwarming story! So encouraging to see the dedication the Clarks have to those in need within our community. Thank you, Teresa and Matt!
Love the story and doesn't surprise me as I have known Teresa Clark for over a decade.
The Clarks exemplify what it means to give back. Thank you for the kindness you extend to these families.
Matt and Teresa are wonderful, caring people. It is nice to see an article highlighting their generosity and kindness.
Matt's such a great guy to work with!
Sacred Heart and Father Dave do so much for the community, without people like you it would not be possible. Holiday Blessing's to you and yours for all the love you share.... Thank You!
what a joyful read!! Bless you and Merry Christmas!! Ruth Scott
Great story, keep up the good work!
Teresa and Matt, your generosity and thoughtfulness extends farther than one could imagine. Wishing you and your family many blessings.
Wonderful story Teresa - We need more people like you and your husband. Have a Blessed Holiday, Linda.
Thank you for your kind and giving hearts! Bless you this holiday season!
Teresa and Matt, This is wonderful and truly inspiring. Thank you for your kindness and generosity and for being aware that there are folks in this world who have it pretty rough. Your actions make a difference. If all of us took the time to be less self absorbed, imagine what a caring and loving world we could create.
Such a nice story! I have known Teresa for such a long time and Eric is right, the world needs more people like her and her family!
This is incredible! We also try to give a lot during the holidays but I love your idea of saving all year long for that purpose. You are an inspiration!
I loved opening my computer this morning and seeing this. It's such an awesome story! I'm so glad there are people like you and your hubby out there. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! Thanks, Micki from the Bookstore
Teresa and Matt, Wow! My accolades to the two of you for your kind and open heart. For me this is a game changer for me to think about at this holiday time. Have I done my part? I don't know. But after reading this story about the Clarks..I will "step".. it up. Happy holidays to both of you and your families and thanks for helping to make this world a better place.
Have a wonderful holiday! It's fabulous what you do for others.
What a great story...and yes you are definitely encouraging others by sharing your story. THANK YOU!
John Tesh in a post said: "Remember whenever you're in a position to help someone, be glad and always do it because that's God answering someone else's prayers through you". Teresa and Matt Clark are certainly answering prayers from families in need. Enjoyed reading this story and wish Teresa and Matt the best.
This is a great story! What a wonderful, thoughtful and caring couple the Clarks are! Definitely inspires me to want to do more!