December 20, 2016
After a career in education, culminating with serving as superintendent of schools in Cape Girardeau, Dan Steska retired, but then took a job as director of operations at La Croix UMC in Cape Girardeau, where he worked for seven years. But having five grandchildren in one town was a strong draw, so he and his spouse pulled up stakes and moved to Columbia.
But as he got a little caught up on projects with the kids and around the house, he found himself perusing the want ads in the local paper. There he saw an ad for the disaster response coordinator position.
“After all those years working at La Croix, I didn’t even know there was a Missouri Conference disaster response coordinator,” Steska said.
He got the job and soon learned that the Missouri Conference had a large role in tornado recovery in Joplin that was still ongoing. Then there was more damage in Orrick and Independence and flooding in Waynesville, Fremont and St. Louis.
After the recovery effort in Joplin drew to close, and following some internal staff restructuring, Steska became the financial manager for Missouri Conference camping. When the camps were closed and later sold, he became responsible for working with the sale of the real estate and all of the property.
With camps no longer on his agenda, Steska was then designated as the staff liaison for restorative justice. Steska worked with a team to encourage and develop service to people who are incarcerated and those in the reentry process.
A New Direction program was developed to provide scholarships for children of incarcerated parents to earn up to six hours of college credit while still in high school.
The latest focus has been Bike to the Future, a ministry to provide bicycles to people reentering society from prison.
Steska retired at the end of 2016. “This is my third time going into retirement, and I think it will stick this time,” he said.
He does plan to continue with the Bike to the Future ministry as a volunteer.
He said although this feels like the right time to exit, he appreciates the time he’s had on staff at the Missouri Conference.
“Jeff (Baker) has been very supportive in my efforts here. Overall, this has been an exceptionally pleasant place to work,” Steska said
Bike to the Future
Bike to the Future’s mission is providing bicycle transportation to those most in need: the homeless, prison reentry residents and refugees. When a donated bike comes in, one of the volunteers goes through an extensive checklist. At this time it is cleaned up and all deficiencies are noted. It then moves into the que for the shop. Parts are acquired and installed to bring it up to speed.
When the bike goes out to someone who needs it, it is equipped with lights, and each rider is given a helmet, lock, tire changing tool and information about rules and regulations.
The ministry was initiated as a tool to help people reentering the community from incarceration, so they would have a way to get to work.
A bicycle repair shop had gone out of business, so the group made an offer and bought everything that he had. Community UMC is providing space in their garage bay as a workshop.
The endeavor has received a $3,500 grant from Missouri UMC and $1,000 from the Missouri United Methodist Foundation.
Faithbridge UMC at Osage Beach has a ministry in which they provide bicycles for children, so they are providing adult-sized bikes to Bike to the Future, and Bike to the Future is sending its child-sized bikes to Faithbridge.
The Bike to the Future group made a trip to St. Louis to check out a similar ministry at Manchester UMC, which has now provided about 5,000 bicycles to people in the community. It currently has 400 in inventory in some stage of repair.
The Bike to the Future group gets together on Tuesday mornings from 8:30 until noon. Some of the donated bicycles don’t take a lot of rehab. Some are just used for parts. Others amount to scrap. At this time the greatest need is money to buy parts and gently-used bicycles that don’t need a lot of work.
Donations can be made at www.biketothefuturemo.org