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Martha Andeen

Martha Andeen

Martha Andeen smiles broadly as she shakes the Bethphage Mission coin bank she received years ago. The bank is nearly full - again - and she will soon deposit the coins and send another gift to Mosaic. Giving to Mosaic has been a lifetime habit for Martha, a woman who exudes joy.

Growing up in Wenona, Ill., Martha attended Bethany Lutheran Church. A member of her congregation was Sr. Ellen Lindgren, who served as a deaconness at Bethphage Mission in Axtell, Neb. (Axtell was the original home of Bethphage Mission, which, along with Martin Luther Homes, became Mosaic in 2003.) Whenever Sr. Ellen visited her home congregation, she talked to the church about Bethphage. Her message made a lifelong impact on Martha.

Over the years, Martha remembers gathering canceled stamps and soup labels, collecting coins and avidly reading The Messenger (Bethphage's newsletter) and Promise magazine. She found other ways to help as well. She and an old college roommate created quilts for twin beds at the campus. She also became a dedicated donor. The mission became more personal for Martha, however, when her son, Larry, was born with Down syndrome.

Larry was born in 1949, four years after Martha had married Dick Vinecore, an Illinois farmer. Larry was their only child. At his birth, Larry was placed in an incubator in which an oxygen malfunction left him blind. Because of his disability, Martha was told that her son would not live past one year, a prediction that was quickly proved wrong.

"When the doctor told me, it did not fully sink in," Martha said. "The Lord protected me from constant worry at first. Then, as Larry got older, he could do many things. He loved people and he learned to know people by their voice and by their footsteps."

The family had a winter home in New Mexico and, on trips there, they would stop in Nebraska to visit the Bethphage campus at Axtell. While Martha and Dick were happy having Larry live with them, they anticipated that one day he would live at that campus, after his parents passed. When Dick died in 1992 after 48 years of marriage, Martha donated the proceeds from the sale of the New Mexico home to Bethphage, a gift of approximately $165,000.

"I had no qualms about what would happen to Larry if Dick and I passed away," she said. "I knew he would be well taken care of at Bethphage."

Not even two years later, though, Larry died of cancer.

"He was such a joy, he really was," Martha said. "He had so many friends."

In 1996, Martha married again, to Ken Andeen. Ken had been a longtime family friend. When his wife died within a few months of Martha's husband and son, she and Ken spent many hours together, crying and supporting one another through their grief.

Ken passed away in 2010. Martha smiles as she states how lucky she was to have had two good husbands and a wonderful son in her life.

Today she continues her lifelong habit of supporting Mosaic and, a few years ago, she created a charitable gift annuity. Her reasons are the same now as they were when she was a young girl. "I hope it can continue to serve people who need tender, loving care as long as it is needed," she said.


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