When it comes to well-traveled people in Jacksonville, Theresa Schroeder is a tough one to top. She’s completed 24 medical mission trips in several different countries, including South Korea, Haiti, Brazil, Uganda, Egypt, Israel, Honduras, Romania, and Nicaragua—just to name a few. This Chapin native has dedicated her life to serving others in her community through her non-profit “In His Service” and through international mission work.
By day, Schroeder works as a nurse case manager at Passavant, where she works evenings in the emergency room helping patients get admitted for the correct level of care and as a discharge planner. Over her 35 years of service, she’s stayed up-to date on the ever-changing insurance requirements and has helped both doctors and patients get the information and discharge equipment they need.
In her spare time, you’ll find her at In His Service, a 501c(3) organization located at 260 Pine in Jacksonville. Founded 26 years ago in her basement, the non-profit collects medical supplies and school supplies, and sends these materials on international mission trips to countries in high need of basic supplies. In His Service collects donations from six area hospitals and many individuals (items such as antibiotic ointment, bandages, over-the-counter medicines, crutches, walkers, wheel chairs, etc.)
Each Saturday from 1-3 pm is a drop-off period at the Pine Street location for anyone who wants to stop by and bring a donation. Schroeder is often at the location at one point or another every day, but the drop-off period makes it easier for coordinating schedules. So far this year alone, the organization has helped with 16 mission trips, as well as 38 in 2013 and 31 in 2012.
When I asked her why she felt compelled to start the organization, she said, “Going on these mission trips opened my eyes to the fact that about 70 percent of the world doesn’t live like we do—they don’t have modern conveniences.” Upon her first trip to South Korea in 1988 where she visited hospitals and orphanages, she saw a need—and wanted to help.
In His Service is 100 percent volunteer-based with no paid staff. The 4,000 square foot warehouse on Pine Street was once a corner grocery store—and it now serves as their home base (after taking over Schroeder’s basement and four bedrooms as it grew in the beginning.)
When Schroeder isn’t traveling, volunteering, or working, you’ll also find her helping out with the Jacksonville Undergound Railroad (which she’s currently making curtains for) and helping take care of the animals on her family farm. “I prefer an organic way of life, so we have chickens, peacocks, horses and a garden … and that keeps us very busy,” she said.
As far as interesting goes, I think Schroeder’s got that department covered. She continues to selflessly serve others and reach out internationally to help others in need while keeping up with a busy life. She’s faced the struggles of mission work in international countries where the climate is dangerous and difficult. She raises animals and food. And she does it all with a smile.