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Schmaltz couple retires from Planting Seeds

By Celina Ip

On May 13, Planting Seeds International (formerly known as Oneness Canada) founders Richard and Susan Schmaltz passed on the torch to Shannon Moyle and Maclane Philips who will be taking over the roles as co-directors. In photo (from left) are Maclane Philips, Susan Schmaltz, Richard Schmaltz, Shannon Moyle and Planting Seeds executive director Madeli Quinonez (in front).

On May 13, Planting Seeds International (formerly known as Oneness Canada) founders Richard and Susan Schmaltz passed on the torch to Shannon Moyle and Maclane Philips who will be taking over the roles as co-directors. In photo (from left) are Maclane Philips, Susan Schmaltz, Richard Schmaltz, Shannon Moyle and Planting Seeds executive director Madeli Quinonez (in front).

Planting Seeds International founders Richard and Susan Schmaltz have officially returned to Pembroke and passed on the torch.

 

In 1999, the Pembroke couple founded Oneness Canada – now known as Planting Seeds International.

Working in Guatemala as lay associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke, the Schmaltz’ organization focused on establishing play-based, activity-centred, pre-school programs and the training of Guatemalan teachers in the basic practices of early childhood education.

In 2005, the organization introduced the "Planting Seeds" initiative which builds classrooms for impoverished children and trains teachers in the philosophy that each child is unique and valuable.

Over the years, the Schmaltz’ humanization work has created a positive ripple effect that has provided innumerable Guatemalan children with solid education and support to lead them towards a more hopeful and successful future.

“There’s this young fella we've been supporting since he was four years old. There are nine kids on his mothers side, 10 kids on his father’s side and he’s the only one who has gone past high school and now he’s going to university,” said Richard. “The whole family was so impressed that they saved the money for a year to help him go to university and they had a great celebration because it was the first time for that extended family where someone had gone beyond high school. Now, all of those aunts and uncles are now doing anything they can to get their kids into school and keep them in school – and that’s the ripple effect.”

Richard shared how fulfilling the journey has been and expressed his belief that it was what he and his wife were born to do.

“In these last eight months as we’ve been preparing to pass on the torch, there’s been a Mark Twain quote that’s been haunting me. It says ‘there's only two important dates in your life, the day you were born and the day you will realize why you were born’,” said Richard. “That quote is just so powerful and really struck me with the thought of ‘wow’ and makes me think that this is exactly what Susan and I were born to do.”'

Now, after engaging in more than 17 years of Planting Seeds in Guatemala, the couple officially retired from their leadership roles on May 13.

“It’s been a great ride but we just realized that it was time to step down. We can’t do it forever and if this is to grow and take on a new life then we have to give it up to the next generation,” said Richard.

They passed on the torch to Shannon Moyle and Maclane Phillips who will now be serving in the co-director roles.

“Richard and Susan have known me since I was born and they introduced me to Planting Seeds and they’re the reason why I’ve been working and teaching there for the past 10 years,” said Moyle. “Planting Seeds has always been focused on early childhood education which is so important and necessary. But the values that someone learns about themselves and other people in Planting Seeds is huge. I’ve been part of it for 10 years and now that we can pass that on to the families and teenagers and community members I’m really excited to see how that all works out as I step into this new role as co-director.”

Philips shared similar sentiments about his love for the organization and his passion for the work that he’ll be doing in Guatemala.

“We are planting seeds in these kids so they grow and we’re planting seeds in the community as well,” said Philips. “The foundation that has been laid for Planting Seeds is pretty incredible and the quality of the early childhood education programs is phenomenal. The methodology is based on love and the idea that children learn best through play and through their own creativity. I think we have so much room for growth because of that foundation.”

On May 16, dozens of community supporters came out to an open house at St. Joseph’s Motherhouse where they had the opportunity to celebrate the founding and history of Oneness, learn more about its transition into Planting Seeds International, meet Mac and Shannon and bid a ‘happy retirement’ to the Schmaltz couple.

While Richard and Susan have stepped back from their leadership roles, they will remain involved through fundraising efforts and other forms of support.

cip@postmedia.com