Leadership & Staff

WORSHIP TEAM

Russ Miller

Senior Pastor

Rich Rollins

Assistant Pastor

Eliezer Sanchez

Bible Study Leader

Eliezer Sanchez grew up in Chicago, Illinois and has been living in Southern Maryland with his family since 1997.  He graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1994 with a B.S.  in Mechanical Engineering, and completed his M.S. in Systems Engineering with Johns Hopkins University in 2002.  He is employed full-time by the Naval Air Warfare Center; and works part-time as a math instructor for a local university.

Eliezer is also a volunteer at The Mission, performing various tasks, including teaching Bible studies on Wednesday and occasionally bringing the message on Sunday mornings.  He graduated from a three year Bible institute (Instituto Biblico de Ministerios Cristianos) in 1989; while concurrently attending high school in Chicago.  He has been teaching Bible studies and serving as a church youth leader on and off for 35 years.  Areas of ministry include Sunday School for youth and adults, youth leader/teacher, and he has been a member of several choirs.

Eliezer’s service at The Mission began many years ago, when he tutored elementary, middle and high school students on-site.  He has always had a passion for serving “the least of these” in our society because he knows what it is like to grow up poor.  As the son of divorced parents, he and his brothers were raised by their mother in Chicago under conditions similar to those who are served by The Mission.  Now, as a believer in Christ and with a new hope, he enjoys giving back to those who have not.

Eliezer’s other passions include hiking mountain trails, spending time on the beach, playing and viewing sports, fellowshipping with other Christian believers, and teaching.  If the Lord tarries, he plans to retire from government service and go into ministry as a high school instructor, teaching Biblical studies (theology, worldviews, apologetics) and mathematics.  He firmly believes that God has gifted each of us to serve, and that, with God’s help, nothing is impossible.

Board of Directors

Dr Rob Blizek

President

Dr. Rob received his Doctorate and MBA from Regent University with post graduate work in electro-optics from the University of California. He received his undergraduate degree in engineering with an emphasis in quantum mechanics from Bradley University. In college, he was active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and it was there that he met his future wife, Susan.  They have  resided for over 25 years in Southern Maryland, where he has been a technology consultant and small business owner. 

Rob credits a great deal of his spiritual growth to his father-in-law, Pastor Robert McCoy who first sparked his passion for serving others, especially through teaching. He has lived out his passion as a homeschooling dad of two, an AWANA leader, a Sunday school teacher, a guest teacher at The King’s Christian Academy, a professor of economics at the graduate school of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland as well as an adjunct instructor at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.  

Rob has authored several Christian works including “A Heritage Lost: The American Truth,” an audio series that traces the impact of Christ Jesus across 2,000 years of history to the founding principles of our country. He is an active member of Faith Bible Church and was a supporter of The Mission for several years before joining as a co-visionary and enabler to Richard and Rob Myers and the staff.

Richard Myers

Founder, Vice President &
Executive Director

Richard received a BS in business management and AS in education from Colorado Technical University. Richard’s started his career started as a U.S Marine working as an electrician on A-6 and F-18 aircraft.  His career has been divided and he has spent over 20 years in the aerospace industry, working with both Boeing and McDonnell Douglas on multiple development programs and flight test on various aircraft. Richard spent eight years in the private sector running and operating his own successful business. He has spent the last 10 years working for the Defense Department, writing NAVAIR contracts, currently specializing in Engineering Services with AIR 2.5.

As one of the founders of The Mission, Richard for the last 10 years has been its executive director and handles responsibilities that encompass all aspects of The Mission including operations and funding.

When Richard isn’t managing The Mission or counseling the needy in our community, he is at home in Leonardtown with his wife Brenda and their three black labs. They are very active members of Faith Bible Church.

Barbara Svenson

Secretary

Barbara Svenson, originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, has lived in Southern Maryland for nearly 45 years.  Barbara has a degree in Hearing and Speech Science from the University of Maryland. Her first professional endeavor was running a breeding and training facility for Hanoverian horses in Charles County.  From there she moved into the real estate business, specializing in both residential and commercial real estate.

Barbara attends Trinity Episcopal Church in St Mary’s City and is the full-time organist.  She has always felt a strong calling to become involved with community outreach efforts.  Through her real estate and church activities she met and ministered to many homeless and people living in poverty.

Over the years, Barbara’s journey with the homeless has involved finding housing, providing food and clothing (including going to campsites), and being a mentor and friend. Barbara’s strong belief is that people can “do better” when given a healthy support system, which includes a strong biblical presence and Christ-centered teachings. She continues to personally mentor and help individuals and families who are in need.

Barbara currently teaches a financial literacy class for The Mission at the St Mary’s County Department of Social Services, a class which The Mission developed specifically for those in need in St. Mary’s County. In addition to teaching these classes, Barbara is actively involved with the day-to-day operations of The Mission and is currently serving as the secretary of the county’s Homeless Prevention Board.

Daniel Winters

Treasurer

Daniel received a BS in accounting from The Pennsylvania State University.  He started as an accountant for Dairy Farmers of America and is currently with Seakeeper Inc. managing the financial needs of foreign entities. Daniel has been managing The Mission’s the financial needs since October of 2017.

Daniel has been involved with various ministries including youth and kids’ ministries with the churches he has attended.  He currently serves on the worship team at Living Word Community Church. He met his wife, Abigail, at Chi Alpha at Penn State where they both served on the group’s worship team.

When not working, Daniel enjoys playing board games, card games, and sports, such as volleyball, basketball, football, etc. and just relaxing at home.

Keith Schukraft

Director of Steve L. Kessler Center

Keith migrated to Southern Maryland in 1991 after 23 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy.  He then worked as a program manager for a defense contractor until 2004 when he was called into full-time vocational ministry as a local church pastor.  Retiring for a final time in 2016, Keith has devoted most of his efforts to working in ‘hands-on’ ministry in the community. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for The Mission, he is also on the Board of Directors for Christmas in April St. Mary’s County, volunteers with the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad and local food ministries, and travels on numerous short-term mission trips in support of the Appalachia Service Project. His spare time will often find him providing emergency repairs for low-income and disabled homeowners, kayaking, off-road biking, hiking and spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Keith has a BS in business management from Regents College and an MS in contracts management from Florida Institute of Technology.  He has also completed the Course of Study at Wesley Theological Seminary.  His passion is helping others grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through discipleship and missions outreach.

John Harris

John earned a BS in electrical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He has worked as a civil servant since 1982 at the Naval Air Development Center, now the Naval Air Warfare Center at Patuxent River, MD.

John served in both Latin America and Europe as a short term missionary. He met his wife Tita in England while working with Operation Mobilization among Asian immigrants. He later worked with church planting teams in Spain and with Muslims in Philadelphia.

John has been on the board of The Mission since 2015 and has served as board president and secretary. He currently serves as an elder at Faith Bible Church in Mechanicsville, MD. He and Tita have three children and three grandchildren.

Staff & Volunteers

Jean Cooper Carter

Client Services Director

Jean holds a B.S. in social work from the University of Maryland as well as certifications from the university in Crisis Intervention, Critical Incident Response. She also has a certification in Life Coaching. Jean also has experience working with addiction and held a CAC-AD Addictions certification. She has been in field for over 25 years and has worked with displaced youth, adult homeless, persons with disabilities, and crisis women’s programs. She has run shelters and supportive housing programs in the county.

As the Client Services Manager for The Mission, Jean operates The Mission dayroom and does needs assessments, counseling, referrals; and advocacy. She assists with obtaining employment. Over the years, she has  served on the Department of Social Services Child Abuse Review Board, St. Mary’s County Alcohol Alliance Board, the Domestic Violence Board for the Family Advocacy Center, and the Tri-County Youth Services Partnership for Homeless Youth Age 18-25.  Jean received the Community Partnership Award from the Southern Maryland Community Network in 2019 .

Brenda Myers

Director of Events & Purchasing

Brenda has an extensive 30-year health care background capped off working as a top surgical technician at Eisenhower Medical Center a top 100 hospital. While there, she worked and led teams in general orthopedic, sports orthopedic, neurosurgery, vascular, urology, gynecology and reconstructive procedures, which earned her a nomination for the Jackie Lee Houston Performance Excellence Award. She has taught and trained surgical students.  She has many certifications, including DCD Organ Procurement Certification. Brenda has also attended and passed all requirements and received her certification to manage assisted living facilities in  Maryland.  In Brenda’s years in the medical field,  she has also successfully managed two separate medical offices.

Brenda has been with The Mission since day one. She organizes volunteers and has operated and organized every major Mission event for six years. She has supervised and taken care of all health department requirements for The Mission. She also assists Richard Myers, the executive director in the day-to-day operation of The Mission.

When Brenda is not working at The Mission or in surgery at the Surgical Center in Leonardtown, she is home with her husband and three black labs.

Melodie Spalding

Food Pantry & Donation Center

Melodie Spalding met at Springs of Life Foursquare Church Lexington Park, Md in July 1995. Made a commitment to God and with each other and became close friends through the next year and got married 2 March 1997. Through the years they helped start Horizon Fellowship Foursquare Church in Waldorf Md, moved back to Lexington Park in 2004 and attended The Lighthouse Foursquare Church for the next 3 years where they first met Rob Myers in 2004 and became good friends, following him with his efforts in starting the Mission. They moved to La Plata, Md in 2007 and attended Charles County Foursquare Church where Melodie was a worship leader and bookkeeper. The year 2018 brought great change in their lives and Eddie and Melodie moved back to Lexington Park, Md, attending and volunteering at The Mission Church and working with the homeless and low income people with transportation and the Mission Food Pantry distribution, along side with Pastor Rob Myers. Eddie and Melodie will be overseeing the Mission Round Houses  that will house the
homeless in the community that have need. Eddie and Melodie are looking forward, with great expectation, for what the Lord Jesus has in store for the Mission in Lexington Park, Md. 

Leslie Funk

Newsletter

Leslie is a former newspaper reporter and former teacher at The King’s Christian Academy.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Chicago and her master’s in journalism at the University of Michigan.

            After 14 years covering government and environmental issues in Lancaster, PA, and suburban Philadelphia, she spent 10 years raising two daughters with her husband, John.  Once the girls were in school full time, she returned to the workforce, teaching a journalism course at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for a year and then joining the faculty at The King’s Christian Academy, which her children attended.  She taught Bible to high school freshmen and English language arts to middle schoolers and high schoolers.

            She retired from KCA after 11 years but writes for nonprofit organizations and pens fictional works.  Her current project is a children’s book.  Leslie loves spending time with her husband.  Together, they enjoy cycling around St. Mary’s County and kayaking on the waterways around the Chesapeake Bay.  They attend Faith Bible Church in Mechanicsville.

Tim Semple

Donor Relations

I am a native of Sioux City, Iowa. My wife Sheri is from Harlan, Iowa. We met in Sioux City and were married in 1969.  I graduated from Mount Marty University in 1973 with a B.S. in anesthesia and as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. In 1976 we both put our lives into the hands of our great Savior, Jesus Christ. We moved in 2005 to Leonardtown, MD,  where I took a position on the anesthesia staff at St. Mary’s Hospital. I retired in 2017 and Sheri and I have made Leonardtown home for our final years. We want to spend those years in the service of our Lord and to the Body of Christ in St. Mary’s County.

Mary Slade

Tax Accountant

Meredith Sharron

Haircuts

Michael Copenhaver

Kessler Care Center Intake Coordinators

Mike grew up in St. Mary’s County and has lived in the area for most of his adult life.  He received a BS in business management with a minor in art from Salisbury University. Mike is employed as a Senior Program Analyst for NAVAIR.

Mike coached football at Great Mills High School and lacrosse at Leonardtown High School.  He has also gone on missions trips to Baltimore, MD and Moldova.  He is an active member of Redeeming Grace Baptist Church where he enjoys teaching Sunday School, helps with setup/tear down, serves on the maintenance ministry team, and serves on the maintenance ministry team and safety and security team.

In 2017 at his church’s home-group Bible study Mike met his wife, Charlotte.  Prior to being engaged, they had the opportunity to work together on one of the round Kessler Care Center buildings through Christmas in April.  Mike’s desire to serve “the poor in spirit” comes from his own knowledge of what it is to feel hopeless, whether it be from life’s challenges or one’s poor choices.  He has been saved from sin and death which showed itself in his life as a hopeless lifestyle filled with drugs, alcohol abuse, anxiety, and depression.  He believes it should be both our joy and our duty to call others to the hope found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys hanging out with people, snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, white-water-rafting, and playing most sports. He also enjoys working on cars and most handyman activities around the house; most of the time he doesn’t care to sit still.  He loves God, his church family, and his “blood” family deeply.  He believes we were created for relationships, first with our Creator and second with one another.

Charlotte Copenhaver

Kessler Care Center Intake Coordinators

Charlotte was born at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in the base clinic which used to be a full hospital in the 1990s. Her father was an officer in the Navy, which moved her family to multiple locations. When Charlotte was just one, her family moved to Cheltenham, MD to support her father’s career. Aside from a two year stint in Whidbey Island, WA, Charlotte lived in Cheltenham, MD until she was 12 years old. Most of her Maryland memories consist of Grace Brethren Christian School and Washington D.C, although; the Southern Maryland area still held a special place in her heart with fond memories of the old HyperSpace in Hollywood, MD. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to San Diego, CA where she completed middle and high school.

Charlotte received a BS in aerospace engineering with a minor in systems engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in 2015. There she played on the ERAU Women’s Golf Team and served with the Campus Outreach ministry. After she graduated, God brought Charlotte back to the Patuxent River area, where she was offered a job as a Flight Test Engineer on base. Little did she know there would be many tests to her faith and great joys in life that God had in store for her back in Southern Maryland.

Her greatest joys in life since moving back to Southern Maryland have been joining Redeeming Grace Baptist Church, and meeting her husband, Michael Copenhaver, at their church’s home-group Bible study in 2016. After much convincing, Charlotte married Michael in October of 2019 and has since enjoyed doing many things together; such as teaching Sunday School, working on cars, most handyman work, outdoor activities, and serving at The Mission. She also serves on the church’s maintenance ministry, audio, and book stall teams. Her life’s slogan would probably be: “Along for the ride.” And a wild one it has been thus far.

In Memoriam of
Founder, Senior Pastor & Board Member

Robert Myers

Robert received an MBA from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and a B.S. in business administration from Regis University.  He was a retired 20-year veteran, having served in both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force.  Robert also retired from the Department of the Navy in June 2021 after 19 years as a senior contracts specialist, procuring major weapon systems and engineering services for the Navy.

Robert was in the mission field and led various ministries for 36 years.  He led outreach activities on Tustin Maine Corps Air Station, supporting overseas pastors during his numerous West PAC deployments to the Philippines. He also led evangelistic activities on the USS New Orleans and USS Peleliu.  Over a one-year period, he carried out an evangelistic ministry which consisted of walking a 12-foot cross all over St. Mary’s County and Washington D.C.

Robert was one of the founders of The Mission and, for the last four years, pastored The Mission church, which is mainly made up of the homeless and working poor of St. Mary’s County.

Robert will be greatly missed by The Mission, its board members, its volunteers and, especially, its congregation.