NYSUT awards Larry Hohler 2022 Community Service Award
Larry was a man who took the phrase “Think globally, Act locally,” to a whole other level. In 1975, Larry and his wife Yvette spent a sabbatical leave in Meru, Kenya that changed their lives.
While teaching history and English, Larry met Joseph Kirima, a student who was 18 years old at the time. When the Hohlers returned to the US, they exchanged addresses with Joseph. As the years passed, their friendship grew. Larry and Yvette subsequently paid Joseph’s tuition at Embu Teachers Training College.
After graduation, Joseph began teaching at an elementary school in Meru town. Later he became the headmaster of a failing school, and turned it around. He was also elected President of the Meru branch of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) – a position he held for more than 10 years.
But this is just the beginning of the story. Economic issues, terrorism, and the AIDS pandemic plagued Kenya, leaving a country of exploited orphans who were living on the streets. Joseph reached out to the Hohlers to ask for their help. He needed funding to maintain a safe haven for some of these children that would provide food, clothing, shelter, and most importantly, the chance for an education.
Hope Children’s Fund, Ltd. was born in 2002 with a board of directors on which some of Larry’s fellow teachers and former students served. The organization became a New York State registered not–for-profit with tax exempt 501c3 status. The Home’s motto, “Education is the Key” has been the basis for their philosophy, asserting that education is the route to self-sufficiency.
Sadly, his co-founder and friend, Joseph Kirima Rwito, died of cancer in January, 2020. He embodied a world of good… a world away.
Larry and Yvette continued their labor of love in their friend’s absence. But Larry lost his battle with cancer, too, on May 13. This year’s NYSUT Community Service Award is is being bestowed upon Mr. Larry Hohler, posthumously.
We thank them for sharing Larry’s vision with us, and for walking side-by-side with him every step of the way.
We have lost a gentle man of the world
Written by Mary Mills Desjeunes for the June 2nd NYSUT Awards Luncheon.