In their family the creed is "family, faith, and philanthropy." John and Nancy Groh have a deeply rooted past in Lutheran Child and Family Services and hopes for its expansive future.
John and Nancy Groh, who have been married for 56 years, discovered that their family story includes a century of involvement with LCFS. Because of this discovery, they felt strongly that they include LCFS in their trust so that families in the future can rely on the agency as a resource, no matter what challenges the next century brings: pandemics, climate changes or war.
Their direct contact with LCFS began during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
"Nancy and I wanted to grow our family," John said. "Our Pastor, Dean Lueking of Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, as well as my professor, Martin Marty at the University of Chicago, sat on the board of Lutheran Child and Family Services. We had some pretty good people leading us toward the agency."
"Due to systemic and institutional racism, there was a greater need for adoptive parents for children of color," Nancy said. "In 1970 and 1973 respectively, we adopted two multi-racial children. We didn't care what color they were. We had a home as well as love to give."
"Our LCFS case worker did a thorough home inspection. They checked our finances. They met with us multiple times and walked us through the process," John recalled. "Both children came home when they were weeks old, but it took six months before our court date when Illinois adoptions became final."
Nancy and John feel that the best gift they have ever given is love.
"Love to each other and to our kids," said John. "It's what spouses live on and why we've been married for more than 56 years. In terms of philanthropy, we have been blessed to be able to make many gifts to many organizations. But the gift of love to these two kids is what will last, and our gift of love to each other will continue until we die."
John is the family historian for the Groh family. He has researched and written the family history for both his and Nancy's family. Through his research he found another connection to LCFS - 100 years before their adoption story.
"My grandfather lived at the Evangelical Lutheran Children's Home (founding program of LCFS/Lutherbrook) in the 1870s," John said. "When my great grandmother died of cholera in Chicago, her husband was unable to care for their five children. Four of them, all under the age of ten, were placed into the care of the orphanage. They stayed until confirmation age when they were released. One of those children, my grandfather, was taken in by relatives in Missouri, and that is where my dad and I grew up."
John is grateful for the blessing that LCFS played in this early part of his family's story.
"It's a very important connection," John said reverently. "If that little boy had not been sheltered and cared for at Lutherbrook, my six siblings and I wouldn't have been born."
John and Nancy hope that through their gift to LCFS, they can extend the good that they have experienced in their lives into the future.
"Through our gift, we hope that families that want to adopt and that children in the foster care system have a good agency to partner with," John said. "The same one that has been functioning in our family for more than 100 years."
John and Nancy believe that everything they do contributes to their legacy.
"I'd like to be known as the husband of Nancy Groh, but also a man who is proud of his heritage and faith," John said.
Nancy agreed saying, "Our legacy has a lot to do with family, faith, philanthropy, along with our Christian values. You are what you do."
To learn more about how to create a lasting legacy that benefits your loved ones and helps to build and strengthen future Illinois families CLICK HERE or contact Marylyn Rodgers at (708) 488-5557 or Marylyn_Rodgers@lcfs.org.