Sister Christine Martin

Sister Christine Martin has a place in her heart just for the small business community of rural Northwest Missouri.

Sister Martin is provincial superior of the Sisters of St. Francis Provincial House in Savannah, Mo. She also is secretary and grant writer for Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation, a nonprofit organization that offers free and confidential business coaching in Andrew, Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties.

"We noticed the diminishment of the American farm," she said, referring to an earlier group's ambitions. "We wanted to see what we could do to help."

Members eventually chose to pool their efforts into the regional organization, which began in 2006. Various partnerships have held the keys to success.

"We feel that group's made an impact," she said.

She said the group has created such events as Winefest to raise funds.

"I really feel like God has blessed us to keep it going," she added.

Sister Martin also helps the Sisters of St. Francis offer basic and intermediate computer classes at its Mother Pia Ministry Center, targeting senior citizens. The building also can be used as an emergency shelter and hosts general equivalency test classes for the St. Joseph School District. She has taught Sunday school classes at St. Rose of Lima parish for almost 20 years.

"Everybody has the same 24 hours in the day," Sr. Martin said. "It's how you use them."

By Ray Scherer