Chuck Fidroeff Stepping Down at Good Samaritan Mission in Jackson
Board taps Wayne G. Richardson, veteran fundraiser, to take over mission
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Oct 17, 2023
By Alec Klein
Special to the Wyoming Truth
This story has been updated on October 18, 2023 as of 8 a.m. MT.
First came love. Then came Maui.
Pastor Chuck Fidroeff, executive director of the Good Samaritan Mission in Jackson, told the Wyoming Truth that he is moving to the Hawaiian island to minister to those in need. When one door closes, another opens, Fidroeff remarked. “God is leading me here,” he said in a telephone interview.
After a dozen years at the Good Samaritan Mission in downtown Jackson, Fidroeff is being replaced by Wayne G. Richardson, 63, the chief executive officer of Retrieving Freedom Inc. It’s a nonprofit organization with campuses in Iowa and Missouri dedicated to training service dogs to help people. The focus is to train dogs to serve the needs of veterans and children with autism.
Richardson was previously vice president of development for South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary in Deerfield Beach, Florida. There, he was tasked with creating a comprehensive fundraising program and alumni association. Richardson also ran a faith-based rescue mission for several years in Stockton, California, and he is a national trainer, helping nonprofits raise funds, a perennial challenge for nonprofits in the Jackson area.
Richardson, an ordained minister, has a strong background in marketing as well, having worked for the famed Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Richardson graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army, both active and reserve, for over 20 years. That includes six years of command leading Army Engineer unit deployments to Korea and Panama. Richardson is also an Eagle Scout.
“I’m kind of a turnaround specialist or an expansion specialist,” Richardson said in an interview yesterday. He added, “Good Samaritan is my last stop.” For the mission in Jackson, he said, “The goal is that in 10 years, it will be completely different.”
Richardson said one of the main aims is to create more affordable housing in a community in need of it. He said he hopes to work with other area nonprofits to make this happen. Richardson’s wife, Carol, also has served in various nonprofit roles.
Fidroeff, 72, initiated the transition at the Good Samaritan Mission, and its board made the decision to bring in new leadership after Fidroeff was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer; doctors had told him he had about two years to live. That was two years ago.
The mission is holding a celebration of Fidroeff’s widespread contributions to the community; the event is open to the public on Oct. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We’re thanking him for 12-plus years of service and celebrating all that he contributed to [addressing] homelessness in Jackson as well as to the community,” said Bill Voge, president of the nine-member mission board, in an interview yesterday. “… It’s impossible to say how many people in disadvantaged situations he’s helped over the last 12 years.”
Fidroeff decided to ignore his cancer diagnosis; he said he prayed for many months to find love again after his wife of decades died in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. His prayers were evidently answered. On July 28, Fidroeff met a lady from Alaska in the most modern of ways—via a Christian dating app. And five days later, they tied the knot on Aug. 2.
Leading the Good Samaritan Mission, Fidroeff was a strong community leader and outspoken on various social issues, including the need for an inpatient rehabilitation center in Jackson Hole. There is no such facility here despite a community grappling with a higher percentage of excessive adult drinking than state and national levels, according to studies. Over 20% — about one in five people in Teton County, home to the city of Jackson — reported excessive drinking. What’s more, 18% of motor vehicle crash deaths in Teton County involved alcohol.
The Christ-based Good Samaritan Mission runs a shelter for the homeless, providing food, clothing, Bible study and more. Fidroeff sought to start a thrift shop that would allow the mission to raise more funds and offer more services to those in need. He also wanted to open a shelter for women and children; the mission is designed for single men or women, and this summer, it disheartened him that he had to turn away about a dozen people.
Fidroeff is now carrying out his ministry from the Maui home he shares with his new bride, Mary Keizer. Fidroeff — also known as Pastor Chuck — said there are many needs in Maui, including people struggling with drug addiction, mental illnesses and homelessness.
Fidroeff is holding two Bible studies on Facebook; it’s called “Take Five Minutes.” He’s also running a church that meets Sundays online; it’s called “The Church That Meets on Maui.”
Maui is still rebuilding in the wake of wildfires that recently ravaged the western part of the island. The fire destroyed over 2,000 buildings — most of them homes — and nearly 100 people perished.
While he said “I love that place,” referring to the Jackson mission, Fidroeff noted, “I’m needed here” in Maui.
Fidroeff’s last day at the Good Samaritan Mission is Oct. 28. Richardson is set to take over the mission on Nov. 1. “He, too, has had a fabulous 20-plus years of helping every community where he’s been,” said Voge, the board president, about Richardson. Voge said the board is excited about the prospect of Richardson building on Fidroeff’s legacy at the mission and in the community.
Fidroeff will be missed, not the least of which for his ebullience, guitar-playing and singing at the mission.