Donor Spotlight: Joyce Soebbing

When you grow up in a family of farming people, you learn at an early age that giving back is a way of life.

That is according to Joyce Soebbing, a long-term Starr donor who grew up in a family of people from the farmland in central Illinois, and is very familiar with seeing how farmers in the area help each other out in times of difficulty.

Soebbing Quote“Our family was brought up to help in any way we could,” she says. “We were raised to look around at what was happening in the community, and see if there was some way to help, either physically or financially.”

Her 35-year career at State Farm took Ms. Soebbing to positions across the country, which she enjoyed, but in the early 90s an opportunity to be transferred home to Marshall, Michigan proved attractive. When she was announced as the Regional Vice President for State Farm, based in Marshall, the President of Starr at that time, Arlin Ness, made contact.

“Arlin introduced me to the whole Starr philosophy and what could be achieved with such an approach. I met young people in the cottages and learned of their stories. I was amazed at the results. They were so much better than other programs because Starr truly looked at the whole situation of the child and their family, if they had one at all,” she said.

This introduction was the beginning of a long-term relationship between Ms. Soebbing and Starr, which has included Ms. Soebbing’s 10 years of service on Starr’s Board of Trustees, an experience that provided even more insight into the impact of the organization.

“It was amazing to have Starr alumni on the board and to hear them speak of the impact that Starr had on their lives. I was also impressed by how many alumni stayed in touch with the organization – that clearly demonstrates the strength of Starr’s programs,” she says.

In addition to making generous donations to Starr over the last 25 years, she has supported the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and the Disabled American Veterans. “When there are hundreds of causes to choose from, I like to focus on three or four and have a real impact,” she says.

Ms. Soebbing has also admired the continuity of leadership at Starr, which has had only five presidents in over a century. “Long-term leadership is important. There has been no flip-flopping on the core values and approach of Starr, which I like,” she says.

On why she chooses to donate to Starr, Ms. Soebbing reflects on the emotions she attaches to its mission. “It is a little hard to put into words – it is more of a feeling that I cannot describe. It is so much more positive than other approaches. I fell in love with what they were doing.”

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