Even after his death, Pastor John Geissler’s legacy lives on. Scott Barr, president of the Shelby County United Way (SCUW), awarded the late Pastor John Geissler’s family with the Champion of the Year APEX Award at the Agape Distribution Food Pantry on Aug. 16.
“The SCUW has witnessed the incredible work that is done throughout our county by nonprofit organizations who focus on human services and helping people throughout their journey. In order to help acknowledge and celebrate this work, we have created the APEX Award,” Barr said.
The APEX Award is divided into two categories: the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Champion of the Year Award. On Aug. 14, the Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Emily Neu, executive director of the Mercy Mission House.
“The Champion of the Year APEX Award is given to a director or staff member of one or more human service nonprofit agencies who has dedicated their life’s work to helping others and creating needed change in our community,” Barr explained. “The term APEX was chosen because it symbolizes the meaning behind the award — the highest point or level of service to others that one can give.”
Barr shared statistics about Agape, the way Agape works, and Geissler’s legacy.
“Pastor John Geissler’s vision was to create a hunger safety net around Shelby County. This vision birthed as a church mission and grew to what we know today as Agape Distribution,” Barr said. “John had contacts across the United States and with those connections was able to accept donated food by the semi-truck full. Every week, trucks of food are delivered to Agape. These networks allowed John the ability to diversify and increase the amount of food the pantry could distribute in addition to USDA, the West Ohio Food Bank, and local grocery and food company donations. Today, Agape can provide a family a grocery cart of 125 to 150 pounds of food. In 2022 Agape served over 5,000 unduplicated clients over three million pounds of food.
“John created a non-profit store which today is in a beautiful state-of-the-art location on Vandemark Road. Churches, non-profit organizations, and teachers can shop at the retail store, and revenue generated supports the operation of Agape Distribution, including the food pantry. With a relationship with Good 360, Agape Distribution has access to national retailers and big box stores through returns or donations to sell.”
He provided quotes from the people who nominated Geissler for the award, such as, “John was a visionary par excellence. Both in Agape work and in his personal life, he had a vision where God wanted to take the organization and him. John was a great storyteller and often used the tale of his difficulties and the Lord’s work in response to further his testimony.”
Agape Board Chair and Interim Director Bruce Boyd also made remarks about his experiences with Geissler.
“John, in my opinion, is uniquely qualified for this APEX Award. I first met John when I had some food to donate. I was totally unfamiliar with what was happening here at Agape Distribution. But as I talked with him and experienced his infectious personality and passion for feeding the hungry, he inspired me to become part of this ministry,” Boyd said. “It’s our job to carry on John’s mission and vision. With John’s untimely death and passing, it now becomes our responsibility. Our responsibility to carry on John’s vision by providing hope to those people who are hurting from food insecurity.”
Geissler’s wife, Sharon, and daughter, Lindsey Shell — a full-time employee at Agape — accepted the award. They were surprised to receive the award and said they would have invited the whole family if they would have known.
“John used to say a dash didn’t really mean much… and I often wonder, ‘why on Earth did he say that?’ because of all people, his dash meant a lot,” Sharon said. “It seems like everywhere you go, there’s a special service honoring John because, as his older brother said, he was his hero. John was a lot of people’s hero.”