Publicity and Marketing Director: Mike Messick
Michael "Mike" Messick is a Christian man who worked 30 years for IBM before selling his home and moving to Nhlangano, Swaziland as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2010. He and his wife Gail were in the Peace Corps before their careers, and returned to it after retirement. At Pasture Valley Children’s Home in Nhlangango, they worked hands-on with orphans running an education center tutoring program from preschool to high school to ensure those children succeed in school, and ran the Bambanani Project.
His wife Gail is a phenomenal blessing to Pasture Valley too. She taught craft workshops to the women in the Shiselweni region and some women walked 10 miles to get to her classes because she taught them how to make income to sustain themselves. Gail also traveled to homesteads in the middle of nowhere and taught the local women how to sew on sewing machines with crank handles in stick and mud huts with no electricity. She showed them what to make, gave them a quantity she would purchase, then returned on a predetermined day to inspect and purchase the crafts and bring more supplies. This involved walking long distances down dirt roads, over hill and dale, carrying raw materials in and bringing finished products out. The Messick's energy and love for the Swazi people are extraordinary, and they left leaving their mark on the country with their efforts. They now continue to work in Africa, return to Swaziland periodically for boots-on-the-ground efforts, and tirelessly market the Swazi Bambanani goods in the USA to help the vulnerable women in Swaziland be self-sufficient.
Vice President: Dr. Sherri Thomas, EdD
Dr. Sherri Thomas is a Christian woman of strong faith who is Principal of Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City, Missouri and active in secular and Christian youth activities. She deals with the impact and outcomes of poverty every day in her school. She has been recognized as Assistant Principal of the Year and Consummate Professional by statewide educational organizations. Dr. Thomas has played many roles in education, including teaching numerous middle school classes, acting as assistant principal at Rolla Middle School, serving as an adjunct professor of education at William Woods, Columbia College, and Hannibal-LaGrange University, and now overseeing Lewis and Clark Middle School as its principal.
In 2017 alone, Dr. Thomas was nominated for the 2017 “Women of Achievement” award, given by the Jefferson City Zonta Club, and the Missouri Association of Secondary Principals named her Middle School Principal of the Year for the Central Region. She has served on the Board of Directors for Russell House, a battered women's and children's shelter in Rolla, Missouri. She has an Educational Doctorate in Administration and Curriculum Alignment. She is an adjunct professor of education at William Woods University.
Secretary: Cassie Lane
Cassandra "Cassie" Lane is a Christian woman who is a middle school teacher at Rolla Middle School in Rolla, Missouri. She is active in church missions and has traveled to Honduras and Mexico, and taught in a Christian school in the Cayman Islands. She has traveled to Africa and witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty, and adopted a child from Ethiopia. She holds an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and graduate degree in School Administration.
Board Member: Sarah Goser
Sarah Goser and her daughter Hannah Cooper are phenomenal philanthropists. They contacted us wanting to do something to help the orphans in Swaziland. At the time Hannah was 10 years old. When we met Sarah and Hannah, they were running a fundraising stand to help abused children. They wanted to start a clothing drive for the orphans, but when told postage was very prohibitive to mail clothes, they found another way. Sarah and Hannah took on the Bambanani Project and began marketing the handmade jewelry we imported. Singlehandedly, they wiped out the inventory in Swaziland and tirelessly found places to market it from small showings to displays in stores. They set up at the Phelps County Fair, worked at the St. Louis Rock N Roll Craft Show over Thanksgiving holidays, and gave tirelessly of their time and finances. After months of hard work, we asked Sarah to join the board and are blessed to have her people skills, vision, and giving heart.
Treasurer: Margaret Lawing
Margaret Lawing is a certified teacher in Missouri, spending the last three years teaching 5th and 3rd grade at Fort Leonard Wood Army Base in St. Roberts, Missouri. She is mother of four wonderful children who all have a drug problem. They get drug to church every time the doors are open. Margaret has three college degrees in early childhood development, elementary education, and child and family development. She is almost done with her Masters of Education degree. She loves the orphans Pasture Valley Children Missions works with, and is a strong supporter of the Bambanani program for women's crafts.
Advisors to the Board: Peter and Michelle McCubbin
Peter and Michelle McCubbin and their children Claire and Luke came from South Africa to purchase a farm in Swaziland about fifteen years ago. Both well educated, Peter with a Masters in Agriculture, and Michelle with a Ph.D. in Botany, they planned to farm and start a nursery, tissue culture plant lab, and green houses. They listened to God's urging to take an empty building and renovate it to care for a dozen of the thousands of orphaned children in Swaziland. As years have passed, more homes have been built and they currently care for almost 50 children by adding a dairy and selling fresh milk and Emasi (buttermilk) to the local grocers. They also have a (very) small sawmill and sell fence posts and firewood from wattle trees. The dairy, farm, and children's home provide employment for about 20 local Swazis.
These two hold a Bible study with staff or kids almost every night of the week. When asked why they invested so much time in teaching the children about Jesus, Peter replied in his vaguely British Afrikaan accent, "Many of these children will not live long. It is my job to make sure they get to heaven, and I take that responsibility seriously."
They have been called on by the court system for emergency placement of abused children and battered women, have taken over administrative and ministry responsibilities for secular orphanages in crisis, host week long "Choose to Wait" workshops in conjunction with local churches to impact the spread of HIV/AIDS, provide counseling to their kids who have lost parents and lived through unthinkable traumas, provide the orphans at Pasture Valley with as normal a life as possible, and constantly look for ways to give each child a chance to succeed when they leave Pasture Valley and go out into the world. If that were not enough, they also provide as many necessities as possible to the 325+ children on the waiting list to get into the children's home. They wear big shoes in Swaziland and seem to have endless energy to serve God through caring for children.
Ambassadors visit them, several U.S. colleges send students to them for summer internships, missionaries volunteer to work with them, the Peace Corps sends volunteers, and Pasture Valley Children Missions depends on them for honest, reliable, unbiased guidance on how to make the biggest impact for orphans in Swaziland.
Peter and Michelle McCubbin are known far and wide for their work. Here is an article from Foreign Policy Magazine featuring Pasture Valley and the McCubbins' tireless efforts for children:
President: Dr. Regina Kitty Bickford, DBS, CPC
Dr. Regina "Kitty" Bickford is a Christian woman, a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, and retired public school teacher. She holds lifetime teaching certifications in nine curricula. She has a background as social worker and group therapist for abuse at Boys Town of Missouri, was adjunct professor of psychology at three colleges over 20 years, and founder of BenevoLance, an international nonprofit benefiting handicapped, elderly, veterans, the world’s poor, and orphans. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Seniors Standing Strong, Idoodledu which runs the Cubes in Space Program, and a number of other nonprofits benefiting children, elderly, handicapped, and veteran causes throughout the world.
In 2006, Kitty was selected as ING Corporation's Unsung Hero for Missouri for educational innovation. She has made over 300 microfinance loans to the world's poor through Kiva.org, mostly disadvantaged women, to start businesses and become self-sufficient. She supports missionaries to Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Ukraine. She was awarded the 2013 Spirit of Rolla Award in recognition of significant achievement and/or lifetime contribution to the spirit of giving.
Kitty holds undergraduate degrees in Educational Administration, Behavioral Science, and Criminal Justice, completed the undergraduate teacher certification program for Missouri, holds a graduate degree in Psychology, has studied Special Education at the doctorate level, and holds a Doctorate in Biblical Studies. She has served as part of a cohort group looking at the possibilities of Sustainable Development under the tutelage of Jeff Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Kitty has authored fifty-two books on starting nonprofit 501(c) (3) tax exempt organizations without attorneys, currently writing a new series of books on nonprofits, and is an independent contractor for Harbor Compliance (Legal Zoom’s competent competitor) setting up nonprofits around the world. She is a Certified Professional Coach specializing in coaching nonprofit executives in startup organizations. She is one of less than two dozen coaches nationwide selected to be part of the PACE Pilot Coaching Program for Pittsburgh Nonprofit African American Executive Leaders made possible through a grant from McAuley Ministries.
In addition, Kitty owns Tax Exempt 501c3, LLC, a nonprofit incorporation service, and Chalfant Eckert Publishing which publishes Christian books written by pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and Christian writers. She lets all authors keep all rights and all royalties.
Kitty created a video about her experiences in Swaziland and it is on youtube or you can click here to see Africa through her eyes.
CALL US: +1.573.201.4832
Advisor to the Board: Zodwa Dlamini
Zodwa Mohammed Dlamini is a Christian woman, educated through Form 5 (High School graduate in Swaziland, a great accomplishment for a Swazi woman), a widow who cares for 14 orphaned children, thirteen of them boys. She found one of the children living in a drain pipe and brought him home. "What is one more?" she explained as she hugged him, "He needed a home." After many years raising this son, she refers to him as “the boy God sent to me.”
When we receive a request for emergency assistance, Zodwa does our Vulnerable Family Support home studies in the Mhlosheni region and reports her findings. She makes recommendations of exactly what help is needed by families immediately and what we can do long term to help them become independent. Her boots-on-the-ground efforts have helped Pasture Valley Children Missions to use resources wisely while providing a hand up to those who need it.