Thomas Wade and Elisheva CleggWhere do you live? How long have you lived in Fluvanna?
We live in Lake Monticello. We arrived in Fluvanna in the summer of 2005.
What brought you here?
Now that is one circuitous story!
We had anticipated a possible move to Virginia prior to leaving our certified organic farm near Mt. St. Helens in southern Washington in 2000. Due to serious health issues and procedures which affected both of us, the rigors of farming and the physical toll made the venture a real financial challenge, especially for a couple already in their 50s.
So we moved down to north Florida near our older daughters, not really knowing how our health outcomes would turn out. What was a very unsettling period of almost five years allowed for concentration on recovery and a totally new life plan. We sometimes refer to the change at that time as “turning in the plow and picking up the books…again.”
In 2005 there were several hurricanes and tornadoes which threatened our area in Florida. It was evident that it was time to pack up again, locate a solid hospital (University of Virginia Medical Center) to continue monitoring some lingering issues, renew our communication with our favorite real estate agents in Charlottesville, and make a serious move to higher ground and away from potential bouts with devastating storms.
Tell us about your family.
We have four very grown children, and for their mother’s sake, no longer are ages mentioned; however, they are very old children.
Arezou Clegg Jolly and her husband John, both attorneys, live in Jacksonville, Florida. They have two children, Chandler Jolly, a junior at the University of Florida, and Jack Jolly, a freshman.
Yalda Clegg, Lt. Colonel, USAF Retired, lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Kristine Clegg Bechtel and her husband Todd live in Monroe, North Carolina. Kristine is a 911 supervisor for the Charlotte Police Department. Todd is with North Carolina law enforcement. They have two boys, Zach in junior high school and Josh close behind.
Thomas Wade Clegg IV and his wife Jolene live in Los Angeles, California. Wade is a practicing nurse and Jolene has her hands full with two active preschoolers, Arthur and Elsa.
To say that we have an over-abundance of pride in our children and their children is the understatement of the year!
What do you do for a living?
The question should be, as it applies to us, “What are we living to do?”
We are both ordained interfaith ministers, performing ministerial duties in a very independent manner. Both of us are registered in multiple states to perform weddings, and travel extensively throughout the year in and around Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, DC. A considerable part of all private ministerial fees are allowed to be directed as donations to our charity.
The Rev. Elisheva Clegg is also a pastoral counselor with a Master’s degree, who attended the intensive chaplaincy program in 2006 at the U.Va. Medical Center and continued as an active chaplain volunteer for about three more years. She remains on the list of active volunteer clergy if needed through the office of the chaplain.
Those experiences led to the establishment of a totally independent, non-religious, nonprofit, 501(c)3, public charity in 2008 which works closely with the U.Va. Medical Center office of social work to assist indigent and severely underfunded patients and families who must travel to Charlottesville for treatment and simply can’t afford the expenses of lodging, food, travel, prescriptions and certain pediatric items, such as infant car seats. The charity has maintained a constant vigilance 24/7 for the last seven years with a small all-volunteer group (especially including founding member Sam McLawhorn who lives in Palmyra) to make sure that U.Va. social workers always have one last lifeline to assist those with immediate temporary needs.
The charity is called Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS) and depends on private donations and public grants to sustain a never-ending need. The Cleggs have two websites which describe fully what they are living to do. Please access their ministerial website at www.reverendelisheva.org and their public charity at www.interfaithhumanitariansanctum.org.
What is one of your pet peeves?
We don’t actually take time to dwell on annoyances, but we are active in casting our votes for those who diligently seek to lift and secure the least able in our society. There is an alarming trend to cast society as “us” and “them.” Such tendencies always allow for the worst of human nature to dominate public discourse in such hateful ways. As a couple we have ourselves to blame if we ignore these fractures in our world and shy away from bringing a message of inclusion. Indeed, we must not wait for an opportunity to be a part of the crusade for good, but seek out involvement to allow consistent acts of kindness to prevail. We have often projected ourselves into a discussion when others are often intimidated to stand up for taking the higher road.
But the point is: Don’t wait on someone else to lead; that may not happen. We all have a basic instinct which allows us to know when people are being diminished and disenfranchised. And we all have opportunities to make a difference for the common good. So – perhaps our pet peeve is best handled by giving space to generosity with considerable vigor.
What do you do in your spare time?
We have a very deliberate way of using time for each other. It still starts with kissing and ends with walking our dog. Our dog is Ladybug. She is a special breed, best described as a “licker.” If there is any spare time after the dog walk, we resume our kissing.
Tell us about a way you have changed over the years.
Science tells us that every cell in our body is replaced over the course of a year. Now that is change! Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we took this constantly occurring renewal process and allowed our mental processes to evolve so rapidly, learning new things, being curious and caring for each other in a way that sincerely wants the best for each other?
Probably the greatest change for both of us is the following: We spent most of our youth preparing and learning and experiencing in order to become educated and self-sufficient to enhance our personal goals; now we use those avenues to enhance stability in the lives of others. It is a refreshing way forward, one person or family at a time.
What has surprised you about your life?
We were both fully involved and active adults from different continents when we met in Germany. Elisheva was a chemical technician for a German water treatment chemical firm, and spoke no English. Captain Thomas Wade was chief of information for Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern, Germany. He was so full of information and wanted to share it from the first day they met. We were married within a year and moved to Florida and began a life in business from about 1974 to 1990, and farming from 1990 to 2000. There were new experiences and moves across the country from 2000 to now, along with medical challenges en route and even into the present.
What surprised us is that we have planned our work lives and each re-education together since 1974, and never really considered not being together. Having seen so many couples quite literally explode by working so closely through long periods of time and many professional changes, we can only conclude that we have evolved and become better people for each other and for others…and that is truly a wonderful surprise in any life.
What’s one thing you hope to accomplish before you die?
There are so many things to experience in this journey. When and what the next venture may be perhaps has not arrived for consideration. We are hopeful that our charity which serves so many will continue to find support, and perhaps some endowments to allow it to sustain well after we have been wheeled away. Since we are already in our 70s, the time for looking ahead is nearer. However, we have never viewed our roles as a way to secure a legacy. Our objective has been simple: Do the best one can do…for as long as one can do it…and until one can do it no more. Oh, and one more thing…we hope that we can take it to the limit together.
Tell us about one of your regrets.
We will review our past critically at some point in time, but for now we have made so many proper adjustments, the probability of too many regrets has narrowed. There were choices made en route to now which each of us wish had not occurred, but had they not occurred, it will forever be a puzzle if we would have evolved into the love affair which is ours.
What quote or saying do you connect with most? Why do you like it?
We created a slogan for the charity that is often placed on correspondence. It states: “You don’t have to know someone to be a friend.” It says so very much about our mission. We seldom know those who are recipients of any of the services provided. The recipients only know that a social worker is reaching out to others and will find a way to assist with a temporary need. Many times late at night when a severely underfunded family arrives with a youngster who is scheduled for a next-day procedure, and the McDonald House is full and the Hospitality House cannot accept children under 18, a social worker has only one place to call for lodging and access to a full-day meal packet for each family member.
We know what it means to be a stranger in a strange place without adequate funds to sustain during a dire situation. We know what it means to have someone say, “Not to worry; I have to make some calls,” knowing that there is one last lifeline.