Mel’s work with ETI builds upon a long history of providing social services for people who are disabled and the most vulnerable and underserved. Trained as a school psychologist, Mel started out working with special education students in the schools and in state run institutions. Since then, he has organized and operated community-based treatment foster care, group homes, and in-home family services in Illinois and Wisconsin. His deep compassion, effective advocacy and business sense, permeate all he touches.
Mel has been deeply involved with the people of Karagwe since 2003 when he and his wife, Leann, attended the consecration service for Bishop Benson Bagonza, and the dedication of the Imani Primary School in Karagwe. The Breeds were introduced to Bishop Bagonza and the work in Karagwe by mutual friends, Don and Gloria Barnes of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, who had met Bagonza when he was completing his doctoral program in Chicago. Years earlier, Dr. Don had spent time with Bagonza in Karagwe assessing educational efforts and helping plan and fund the Imani Primary School. Dr. Don invited members of his church to join him; the Breeds accepted, and have never looked back.
Dr. During their visit in 2003, Mel and Leann Breed were so inspired by the efforts in Karagwe, that they returned there in 2006 and 2012 to meet again with Bishop and new friends, and to witness the advancement on various projects. They were encouraged with the progress of the Imani School, the Nkwenda Youth Center, the Karagwe Hotel and the Karagwe Conference Center, and they committed to stay involved.
Mel brings breadth and depth to the ETI Board as a philanthropist with deep knowledge of business, social services, and Karagwe itself. Mel states, “My friendships with people in Karagwe run deep, and we are blessed by their love and compassion. It is so important to us to help them have excellent schools and opportunities to create income producing enterprises. From the first time I met Jan and heard about the water purification project, through the building of KARUCO, and now with a vision of Rural Opportunity Centers, I know that ETI is an organization which can help fulfill our dream to accompany the people of Karagwe as they make a better life. I am honored to be a part of the mission of ETI.”
Mel and Leann have been married over 50 years. They have a daughter Amy and a son Joel, and four grandchildren – Berit (23), Harrison (21), Emerson (17), and Jackson (14). They moved from Normal, Illinois to the Eau Claire community 26 years ago. They became active in the First Lutheran Church finding that the congregation was very mission oriented and had a sister congregation in Malawi. ETI is honored to have Mel Breed on its team.