When Mary Wilderman learned that seven to eight homeless people were freezing to death every winter in Holbrook, she took it to heart. As a psychiatric nurse who had spent much of her life helping others, this was just plain “unacceptable”. She helped form the non-profit Bread of Life Mission in 1996 intent on helping the homeless receive spiritual guidance, physical assistance and vocational training. A year later she convinced a former gas station owner to use his facility to provide overnight shelter during harsh or cold weather. Later, an old fire station, two churches and other buildings were used to feed and house homeless men, women and children. Eventually, Mary convinced the City of Holbrook to donate a 40-acre parcel of land. Then she devoted her time to pursing grants for start-up and operational costs. In May 2003, Bread of Life Mission opened a 30-bed, around-the-clock shelter. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis many years ago, Mary hasn’t let illness stop her from making a difference in her community. She has recruited many volunteers to prepare and serve meals as well as teaches life skills and assists in providing supervision for shelter guests. She’s also involved in many other community projects. She has chaired the Salvation Army Extension Unit for over ten years. She is well known for her dedication to hurting people and has changed many lives in Navajo County.
In Mary’s own words, “I do what I do because I can. I am grateful to be able to give to others in any and every way possible what the Lord has done for me.”