By Dave Ruple
Timothy Yoder, owner of Tim Yoder Construction in Middlefield and Kara Yoder, professional clinical counselor at A Season of Hope Counseling Center, turned personal tragedy into a mission, to invest and support the community their children lived in and
who provided immense support in the wake of tragedy. Their son Joshua Yoder graduated in 1996 from Cardinal High School. Josh’s passion was baseball, and he aspired to play baseball at Coastal Carolina College while studying architecture. However, just five days after his graduation and playing in the state championship, he was tragically killed. At 17 years old, he was on his way to a summer league game when a truck wandered left of center killing him. In memory of Josh, the family began a foundation. “We had a lot of people contributing money,” explained Tim and it was questioned, what to do with it. Kara’s father, Jack Menosky, had the idea to start a foundation to give out a scholarship.
After the unexpectedly generous outpouring of support, they found themselves with enough funds to pay for three scholarships to students attending Cardinal High School. By 1998 the Foundation had grown due to contributions and fund raising efforts. This enabled the Foundation to begin awarding a scholarship to both Berkshire and Newbury High Schools for a total of five scholarships per year. The scholarships were dedicated in Josh’s memory and the criteria were based on the way Josh lived his life. One important criterion was the recipient must have played a sport in their senior year. “We’re very strong believers in the benefits of extracurricular activities,” said Tim. “We know the positive effect it had on Joshua. When Joshua wanted to play baseball at a collegiate level, he knew he would have to invest time and effort and excel academically. It was his love of baseball that pushed him academically.” “We didn’t have grade-point-average criteria,” said Kara, “Because we aimed for well-roundedness. You don’t need to be a 4.0 student to be a successful person.” In 2003, tragedy struck again. Their youngest son, Tyler, was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 18 after moving to Florida to attend the University of South Florida. Tyler was set to begin and major in a mechanical engineering program before his accident. At this time, the Joshua Yoder Foundation had been well-established and in their memory was renamed the Joshua and Tyler Yoder Brother’s Foundation. In the wake of the loss of their second son, the Joshua and Tyler Yoder Brother’s Foundation expanded to nearly double the contributions to help others. “When Tyler was killed there was an unbelievable amount of support, from people all over,” recounts Kara. The Foundation expanded, providing eight, four and two-year renewable scholarships per year distributed among Cardinal, Berkshire and Newbury schools. “Most students we award do well and stay in school,” said Tim. “And most years we are awarding a total of 32 scholarships including renewals.” Amy Hissa, formerly Amy Shipman, a Cardinal graduate, was one recipient of a scholarship (2001). “From a financial perspective, a four-year scholarship was a huge blessing,” said Hissa. “I used it toward a degree in exercise physiology and business administration from West Liberty University.” She is now married with three children and owns two businesses, “At Last, Event Planning” and is a consultant for “Rodan + Fields”, a skin care company. Hissa
serves on the Foundation’s board and encourages past recipients to give back to their community. The Joshua and Tyler Yoder Brothers Foundation currently raises funds through their annual golf tournament at Fowler’s Mill and through annual corporate donations. All staff and board members are volunteers, so they are able to provide financial aid to students with no administrative expenses. The Foundation has also contributed to several special projects over the years, from book purchasing to youth league contributions for local teams. June 14 will mark the 20th anniversary of Joshua’s passing and marking a milestone for the Foundation. Over the last 20 years, the Joshua and Tyler Yoder Brothers Foundation has given more than $1,000,000 to more than 130 young men and women with over 95 degrees credited. “We’re picking up the applications this month,” said Kara. “And then we meet with school officials and vote.” The awards will be announced at the senior award events at the end of the year. The award decision process is constructed to maintain fairness throughout. “We work very hard to make the voting process fair for everyone,” explained Tim. “We get at least four voters from each school, and never see each other’s votes.” A third party then tallies the votes. To make a contribution, review available scholarships, attend the annual golf outing or learn more about Joshua and Tyler Yoder, visit www.yoderbrothersfoundation.org. The 2016 Golf outing will be held July 17 at Fowler’s Mill, and will include an appearance by speaker Bobby DiBiasio, vice president of public relations for the Cleveland Indians.