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Focus on fair trade

Tallgrass Creek resident integrates mission education with gift service

Created date

March 20th, 2012

Bob Southard officially retired in 2008, but he s as active as someone with a full-time job and takes on new projects with the energy of someone half his age. Bob retired after a pastorate in Kansas City, Kans., and currently serves as part-time interim pastor at First Baptist Church, in Overland Park. That is one of the many activities in his busy schedule. He also teaches piano lessons, helps to care for one of his granddaughters, and sings in two choirs. One of Bob s latest endeavors and greatest passions is an organization he created to help people in poverty earn money by selling their handmade crafts and gifts. After many mission trips with youth groups, he realized the locals had unique products but no way to sell them. I realized they were making really beautiful things, and that I could help them sell them, he says. When he returned home, Bob set about launching Unique Finds Gifts. He has collected items from all over the world, from wooden Russian doll sets and fabric peace roses made by women in India to wooden chalices from Haiti and nativity sets handcrafted in Congo. All of the goods were made by Christians in financial need. Bob arranges sales at local churches and other community organizations, and items can be purchased online through his website. The proceeds from sales go primarily to American Baptist-related missions with an emphasis on fair trade.

Active retiree finds the perfect home

Last year, Bob decided to move toTallgrass Creek. He says the vibe at the Erickson Living community in Overland Park, was a perfect fit with his active, upbeat lifestyle. I m loving it here, he says. The food, the social life, the independence, the support system here is very good. Bob says he exercises more than ever because Tallgrass Creek s on-site fitness and aquatics center conveniently fits into his busy schedule. And, he says, it s nice to not worry about maintaining his house or cooking for himself. Now he eats dinner most nights at Tallgrass Creek s full-service Blue Sky Restaurant, where he enjoys meals in the company of new friends and neighbors. Bob says moving to Tallgrass Creek was the right decision for him. He estimates that he spends less money than when he was living in his duplex. Plus, he has access to an entire community of people, amenities, and activities. I recommend coming here sooner rather than later, Bob says. Why not enjoy all of the resources earlier?