Keeping the faith

A member shares his secret to a life of fulfillment

Bill Fintel spends most mornings sewing schoolbags for children around the world. This article (PDF) | Current issue (PDF) | Archive

By Kathleen Childers

Like many people, Bill Fintel has a common thread that runs through his life.

You might guess that it has to do with a particular skill this 89-year-old has. But when you look at the ways he earned a living over the years – from doing public relations for a railroad to making automotive upholstery – you quickly realize his skills are more varied than the patches in a crazy quilt.

Living in the same region all his life? While that might be true for some, it’s not for Fintel. He and his wife, Sue, and their children moved frequently during the early days of their 68-years-and-counting marriage. He’s lived all over the U.S. (and has visited all 50 states).

His common thread is more basic and foundational: It’s faith.

“Faith is the only thing that’s been a guide to me,” he says. “Without it, you don’t have hope.”

It carried him through job changes and family challenges. And it led him to his current volunteer activity, which is sewing schoolbags for children in need all over the world. For the last five years, Fintel has spent several hours every day cutting out fabric and stitching it together on his old sewing machine.

So far, he has made nearly 4,500 bags. He donates them to the Orphan Grain Train for distribution.

He’s thrilled to be able to do the work. “It gives me something to look forward to,” he says. “My pay is every time I think of the children who get these bags and the smiles on their faces.”

His commitment to sewing schoolbags is like others in his life. They all turn on faith.

“Knowing that Jesus Christ is my savior means more than ever now,” he says. “I feel as though God is behind everything, and I’m so grateful to have the ability to make these bags.”