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Agents of Change—Alvin and Wanda Couch Casting Bread upon the Water

October 2008

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For Alvin and Wanda Couch, giving in support of students was a natural choice. “We just have always felt that education was an important aspect of life,” Wanda said.

Seeking information and advice on how to realize their goal to help college students, the Couches contacted LDS Philanthropies (LDSP). There they found direction from “those who knew where our donation could be put to its best use,” Wanda recalled. The couple identified BYU–Idaho, then Ricks College, as the right choice for them.

With assistance from David Brown, a donor liaison at LDSP, Alvin and Wanda established endowed scholarships. “You know what they say, ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,’ ” commented Alvin. “Well, the Lord giveth, and we were glad to be able to give, too.”

“It’s given us a lot of satisfaction to know that, first of all, we have not hung on to what we have,” Wanda clarified. “It has given us a feeling of accomplishment; we were able to help others reach their goals that would not have been able to otherwise.”

Like others who set up scholarships at BYU–Idaho, the Couches periodically receive thank-you letters from the recipients of their scholarships—creating a special connection to those being helped. Wanda revealed that they encourage all who visit them to read the letters. “They are so neat.”

“The only way I can really put how it feels to help others,” Alvin explained, “is the warmth you feel when reading those letters. ‘Thank you. If it hadn’t been for you, we might not have received an education.’ And I’m thinking, it isn’t me. The Lord did this. He was the one that supplied it. We were only instigators in bringing it forth from Him.”

Alvin and Wanda stay connected to BYU–Idaho through periodic mailings and frequent contact with LDSP representatives. “If I have any questions,” Alvin remarked, “I get on the phone to Dave Richards (director of LDSP at BYU–Idaho), and I absolutely get my questions answered.” On occasion, the couple has also hosted LDSP representatives in their home. “It brings the Spirit into our home whenever they come by,” observed Alvin.

Despite years of supporting BYU–Idaho students, the Couches visited the campus for the first time this September. After a campus tour, Wanda concluded: “I’m totally impressed. Students are not only attending this place, but they are an integral part of it.”

One phrase has special meaning for Alvin and Wanda: “Cast your bread upon the water, and it will come back to you buttered.” As a young married couple with a baby, they lived in a very small place, and finances were “penny to penny.” Despite their circumstances, Alvin regularly lent money to a coworker. Wanda asked Alvin how he could loan money given their circumstances, and Alvin’s reply was always that they were casting their bread.

“And it did come back,” Alvin pointed out. “It came back 10,000 fold. So, let’s assist somebody else. Maybe then they can go forth and help somebody else. That’s what I think.”

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