An Open Letter to Our Readers:
To those of you who are fortunate enough to know Stephanie Ashcraft, a member of the Tucson Arizona West Stake, what I have to say will not be surprising. This letter is for the rest of you.
No, this is not a eulogy. Stephanie, Ivan, and their wonderful family are only moving to another state. However, take a moment to read further and you will see that we are going to miss them all. While this letter is about Stephanie and the good that she has brought to our lives in Southern Arizona, the family is an amazing example of Christ-like love, as they all work together for the betterment of each other and everyone who come in contact with them.
Stephanie would never be considered a timid personality. However, she is at the same time a very humble and unassuming person. That’s exactly the kind of person you would ask to work in Public Affairs to be responsible for media relations in Southern Arizona from Tucson to the Gila Valley, extending into Silver City, New Mexico.
Stephanie has done an amazing job during the past year and a half in her calling when you consider what she has been able to accomplish. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have any paid ecclesiastical or support leaders on a local level. Yes, we’ll have a few salaried maintenance people responsible for our dozens of Church buildings, or a professional family counselor, or full-time teachers of religion in the Institute (college level) and Seminary (high school level), or a full-time manager of the Deseret Industries Thrift Store. Sister Ashcraft, like hundreds of others of the rest of us, has spent 40 hours a week or more at a job and raising a family, and then willingly, with a smile on her face, devoted another 5, 10, 20, or sometimes 30 hours a week of her “spare” time valiantly fulfilling her stewardship.
As someone who has worked closely with her, I can attest that Stephanie has done everything she was asked to do and more. Her enthusiasm has been contagious. She has not only been effective at what she does behind the scenes, but she has professionally represented the Church, making many friends throughout Tucson and Arizona.
She was the force behind Arizona Mormon News. Working with Spencer Boerup and Steve Riggs to set up the site, Stephanie identified the subtitle: “See the Good in Southern Arizona.” She has spent long hours working with 13 stake leaders throughout the area who represent more than 50,000 members of the Church, along with writing and editing dozens of news releases and presenting them to the media, and writing and editing stories for azmormonnews.com.
She has used her personal relationships with the local news media to open opportunities for many stories to be placed on air and in the local papers.
Editing someone else’s work, especially when you are as conscientious as Stephanie, is a very time-consuming and draining job. Stephanie spent hours travelling to meet with public affairs directors to present well-prepared instruction and help them develop their skills.
She has done this and more, at the same time being an amazing force in her community as a parental leader in the Marana School District, leading out in Parent Teacher Organizations for the schools, and attending numerous meetings, as well as being on several committees. When several adult business billboards were placed facing her children’s schools, Stephanie and her friend, Melanie Bullock, lead the efforts to remove the offensive signage. Stephanie contacted local and state leaders and used social media to letting other concerned citizens know who to contact in regards to the removal of the signs. After three days of hundreds of citizens contacting the billboard company, the adult signs came down.
When he learned she was going to be moving, Marana’s Mayor Ed Honea, told her with a smile –but I think he may have been serious at the same time–“What is the city of Marana going to do without you? In recent years, you have perhaps done more for Marana than any other single person [not employed by the city or officially elected]!”
Her family came first even as she supported her husband who was a member of their ward’s bishopric (a lay leader in their congregation); she helped introduce the gospel and the missionaries to numerous people in her living room; encouraged her children to be outstanding students; helped her son organize the Marana Diaper Dash through which they collected over 6,000 diapers for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona; in addition to giving birth to and caring for her fifth child. (She often enlisted her teenage son and daughter to babysit during our meetings.)
I haven’t even mentioned that she did this while continuing to write about her cookbooks—one of which was listed on the New York Times best seller lists—blogging for her business, and appearing on air as a guest reporter for local TV stations.
There’s no worry if she will stay busy. The day that she was released from her Public Affairs calling she received a phone call from her publisher asking her to write another cookbook. This time it will be “101 Things You Can Do with Rice.” When her son Devan found out, he rolled his eyes, good-naturedly looked to the ceiling and said, “I guess I better get used to a lot of rice in the next eight months!”
Stephanie Ashcraft is a spiritual giant. She has been a friend to everyone she has worked with. I have grown to appreciate her guidance and counsel and will definitely miss her. The Church and Southern Arizona have been blessed by having her support.
She has definitely been able to help us “See the Good” around us.
by David Hoefferle