Erin Stoffel: Motherhood, Faith and Forgiveness
Erin Stoffel is a mother, Christian, survivor, and hero. Born and raised in Neenah, she is an active member of the Calvary Bible Church, regularly volunteers at the YMCA, and is a dutiful mother. And today we honor Erin, and recognize the three pillars of personality: Motherhood, Faith and Forgiveness, which fuel her spirit and gave her strength to carry out her heroic actions.
A mother both in practice and in spirit, for the past decade, Erin has spent her life cultivating a fruitful garden for her children. Being a mother and spending time with her children is not just an occupation of her time, but rather for Erin, as it is for all mothers, it is something more. Not only is it more through the indescribable loving bond formed, but it is more through the mutual strength, love and growth given from Mother to the child and the child to the mother. Being a Mother is without a doubt, the greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration a person can be gifted. Motherhood teaches about unconditional love, reinforces the importance of giving back and tells all how to be a better person.
Faith is another very important part of Erin’s life. She and her family are members of the Calvary Bible Church, and actively participate in communal events and charities. Faith rests not in what one shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and what he is doing for us. And through the application of this gospel Erin creates “A light of Encouragement” for her family and our community. We truly love because Christ first loved us. And faith in all things, creates strength where all lies.
“One forgives to the degree that one loves.” These words spoken by François de la Rochefoucauld are woven into Erin’s heart, which is a colorful canvas painted with great strength, perseverance, love, and forgiveness. This aspect held in the heart of Erin Stoffel is the fuel to her fire, her light in the dark, and is the ultimate attribute of enlightenment, for forgiveness is the final form of love.
Motherhood, Faith, and Forgiveness. These are the three pillars of personality that build the strength of Erin. Despite all the struggles, it is how she raises her children. Although children hold their mother’s hand for a moment, the mother holds their hearts for eternity. Despite the Hardships it’s how through the strength of her faith, she builds her community. For faith is the greatest testament of commitment. Despite being seriously wounded, it is how she was able to save her children Ezra and Selah. For the strength of motherhood is greater than natural law.
Because of Erin’s heroic actions, Ezra, Selah and the dozens of other civilians there on the Trestle Trail bridge could live. And despite losing a part of her family, Erin forgives. For forgiveness is the greatest step of growth. Adversity does not build character, but it instead reveals it. No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations she goes through in her life, Erin Stoffel will always have Motherhood, Faith, and Forgiveness deep within her soul that will bring the inner strength to persevere through any struggle.
By NHS Arete Student Dre Owens
Bob Totten: A Man for All Seasons
Neenah occupies a small corner of the world, but from small places, great things are made. For example, in the city of Neenah, lives a man who may seem like an ordinary person, but what separates him from the rest is the true dedication and pride he has for his city.
This man selflessly works so he can give students the best life experience that they can possibly have. He works for endless hours to provide joy and success to others. It is for these reasons and more, that Bob Totten has earned the right to be one of Neenah’s most highly respected residents.
Because of Mr. Totten, the current Neenah residents and students are more successful and more responsible. Because of Mr. Totten, the current and future generations of Neenah will be more educated and more prepared. Because of the legacy of Mr. Totten, the current, and future generations of Neenah will set goals for themselves and chase their dreams.
That; however, is not where Bob Totten’s story ends. Almost a half century ago, Richard Nixon was President of the United States, the number 1 song was “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, a gallon of gas cost 40 cents and Mr. Totten was a first-year teacher in Neenah. Mr. Totten joined the NHS staff more than two decades before Conant and Armstrong were merged together by the link, then served his community for over double that time. Because of his 396 months as a teacher, Mr. Totten smoothed the path that all the future Neenah High School staff have traversed.
After 33 years, he retired from teaching, but continued to affect the lives of Neenah students through coaching. We are here to give Mr. Totten the respect which his extended time in the classroom has rightfully earned him. Bob Totten says that he strives to be the best father and best husband possible, and we strive to be like Bob Totten, becoming the best people we can possibly be. Mr. Totten is uncertain about his impact on Neenah, saying, “I don’t know if I changed [other people’s lives], maybe helped them set [goals] for themselves.” And that is why we are here, to reassure him that he definitely has, and in much larger ways than he may expect.
Since he retired from teaching 15 years ago, Mr. Totten continues to impact the youth in Neenah by coaching multiple activities. This man may live in a small part of the world, but his half century of teaching will always have a global impact. From this day forward, Bob Totten’s legacy should be a reminder to us all that we should, as coach and basketball player John Wooden once said, “Make each day your masterpiece.”
Thank you, Mr. Totten.
By NHS Arete Student Tyler Jankowski