LE MARS, Iowa | For every bag of Jumpy Monkey coffee sold by students of Gehlen Catholic Schools in Le Mars, a "benevolent benefactor" gives $1 to the Catholic Schools Foundation to help meet tuition needs in the diocese not covered by the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation.
The premium coffee is produced in Sioux City at Opportunities Unlimited, a residential rehabilitation service provider for those with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or other physical disabilities.
The "benevolent benefactor" who purchased Jumpy Monkey is Jim Bride, of Moville, Iowa. The retired banker didn't know a thing about coffee when he and wife Val bought this fledgling roasting firm 10 years ago. He and Val, who died in 2009, simply wanted a means by which they could provide OU clients purposeful, meaningful employment.
That was at least 250,000 pounds of Jumpy Monkey coffee ago. And thousands of dollars in educational assistance, too.
Bride, a friend of mine, grimaced when told I was to take his photo on Monday after a Mass celebrating Catholic Schools Week in the new $10.6 million St. Joseph Church. If he could cuss in church, he might have. Let the record show he didn't.
"When Val and I sold the banks, we said that would be the end of the publicity," said Bride, a giver who has operated in the shadows of his OU undertaking the past several years. "Tim, I'm not a fan of this."
The picture and publicity? Maybe not. When it comes to Jumpy Monkey coffee, Catholic education and worthwhile work for those served by OU, you'll find no bigger booster than Jim Bride.
In just the past year at Gehlen, for example, students have sold their parents, their friends and folks all around Plymouth County 2,328 bags of Jumpy Monkey coffee. The roasted beans, offered ground or whole in 23 flavors, regular and decaffeinated, raised fundraising standards.
Jump Monkey, which retails at grocery stores for $8.99 to $9.99, sells at Gehlen for $12.75. Gehlen profited right at $10,000 this year through Jumpy Monkey sales. That money helps fund salaries, classroom supplies, technology, books and more.
Each year during the Friends of Gehlen Ball, Gehlen Catholic honors an individual who epitomizes the spirit of Peter Gehlen (for whom the school is named) through gifts of time, talents and treasures. This year, the school jumped the gun by honoring Bride on Monday. For his commitment, Bride was presented with a crystal cross.
Beyond dollars generated for Gehlen and OU, opportunities percolate via this sharing. OU clients and staffers are frequently Gehlen guests, lending hands in the school's "Feed Just One" effort directed to aid the people of Honduras.
Opportunities Unlimited CEO Stephanie Brown directs a "Gotta Brain, Get a Helmet" safety lesson at Gehlen, done to emphasize the importance of protecting one's brain by wearing a helmet. Brown concludes her instruction by asking second-graders to name the most important part of the body, the one that must be protected.
The usual suspects often surface: heart, brain, arms, big toe.
However, one little guy stunned Brown. Raising his hand, he said, "My soul."
"That is not an answer we have ever received anywhere else," Brown said.
The answer echoed through the quiet of St. Joseph Church on Monday. In a year of growth and new construction' of promise through an educational merger with Spalding Catholic, of uncertainty in a wobbly economy, and in continued faithfulness shown in one way through surging coffee sales, an answer from the mouth of a babe had everyone in that church, including me, taking stock of where they stood. Not in the physical sense, mind you.
"My soul," the little boy said.
Bean counting where it matters most.