Carlos Gantchoff has been named the new Director of the Community Resource Center (CRC) at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church effective immediately.
Gantchoff brings more than 30 years of experience in community service and education, and is passionate about empowering the underprivileged and underserved. He is excited about being part of the CRC, which offers hope and support while providing basic needs (food, clothing, supplies) and supportive case management to assist families in crisis.
“I saw in this community and in this congregation a genuine love for people,” stated Gantchoff, 54. “People here are looking for good work, good things to do for others. We have the same mission and goals we can accomplish together. I think we will be lions moving in the same direction for good.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Carlos to the team!” said Kyle Jackson, St. Andrew’s Executive Pastor of Serve and Care. “Carlos has spent his life seeking after justice and working with those who have been hurt by life’s circumstances. His camping ministry and teaching with underserved communities uniquely suits him to this role. Please join me in welcoming Carlos Gantchoff!”
That camping ministry was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Gantchoff in his 20s ran a children’s camp for underprivileged children for 10 years. After obtaining an education degree, he taught at the same elementary school he had attended as a child in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I taught the underserved community in that school that they are worth something,” he said. “I was one of the underserved when I was their age. I wanted to make sure kids like me knew that they can be amazing people. I used to tell them, ‘You have to be better than me, and I’m pretty good.’”
Gantchoff was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Scottsdale, and flaunts his bloodline: his father is full-blooded Bulgarian and his mother full-blooded Mexican. He and his wife, Meg Giles, form a blended family with seven children. His life experiences give him unique insight into those he serves.
“I’ve been there,” he recalled. “When I was a single parent of five, I had to get help to feed my children. I sat in economic services asking for food assistance, hoping I was not being judged. The only reason I went there is because if I didn’t, my kids wouldn’t eat. I was embarrassed when they told me things like, ‘you can’t use this money to buy alcohol or tobacco.’ All I could think was, ‘Come on! My kids don’t eat that stuff!’”
He uses that to shape his work with those in need, specifically at the Community Resource Center. “It takes courage and strength — not weakness — to ask for help. We have to welcome people in order to help them get through that obstacle. We have to build trust, both ways, together.”
It was at that northern Wisconsin camp some 30 years ago that Gantchoff met and worked beside Mike Carlson, who would become the current Lead Pastor of St. Andrew’s. “We forged a lifelong friendship based on a commonality that has bonded us together all these years,” Gantchoff said. “We both see the worth in others, especially those on the outside.”