Jeff and Luanne Stauffer
Husband and wife team value collaboration, service, and support in their community
If you’ve driven around the Upper Perkiomen Valley in the past year or so, you may have noticed the beautiful new signage when entering a municipality. They are sophisticated and stately, and tie together the Valley in a distinct and lovely way. These signs are the largest multi-municipal gateway and way-finding sign program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. From start to finish, it took seven years and dozens of – often changing – local government officials, organizations, volunteers, and leaders across seven municipalities to get it accomplished through an initiative called “PerkUp!” Perhaps you noticed the signs, drove by, and didn’t consider how they came to be or who was behind their creation.
In small communities, it really does “take a village,” and we don’t always stop to consider who in our village makes possible the services, events, structures, and initiatives. As Luanne Stauffer, former President of the Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of PerkUp (Community Development Corporation) shares, “When we work hard and make the extra effort, we can work together in ways that aren’t possible otherwise.”
Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine what it must take to persevere over a seven-year, seven-municipality project like this one. Watching his wife work, Jeff Stauffer has a theory about the secret sauce of what it takes to build a positive community: “Determination to do the right thing. We don’t all have that, and Luanne does!”
Jeff and Luanne both have it. They’ve lived in the Upper Perkiomen Valley for years (Jeff: his entire life. According to Jeff, he could have hit Perkiomen’s campus using a pitching wedge from his childhood home). They raised their three kids, worked in Jeff’s family’s business, and held just about every volunteer position that exists in a small community, or so it seems! Jeff served on the Upper Perkiomen Valley School Board, coached little league, served on the Boards of The Open Link (“A multi-service agency serving the greater Upper Perkiomen Valley to promote healthy and productive lives”), the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, Schwenkfelder Library, and their Palm Schwenkfelder Church. Both have served on their church council. Luanne has also served on the boards of the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library and the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library, Project Live, and currently serves on the Boards of the St. Luke’s University Health Network (Chair), Upper Perkiomen Education Foundation (Chair), and Perkiomen School (Secretary).
Jeff, a Schwenkfelder – his ancestors arrived directly off the boat in 1734, – is currently winding down his long career at Stauffer Glove & Safety, a cotton glove manufacturer and distributor of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for industries. In June, Luanne retired from her 25-year position as President of the UPV Chamber and Executive Director of PerkUp. According to the Stauffers, giving back with both time and talent to your hometown, where you live, work, and play, is deeply meaningful and leads to a great deal of learning.
“Some of it is organic,” shares Luanne. “A lot of our friends care about the same things – sometimes we join them, or they join us – and because we enjoy one another, it’s not work. As such, there is a lot of overlap of like-minded people within different organizations.”
Jeff adds, “Established in 1907, [our family company is] part of the fabric of the community.” Giving back where you work and live is a win-win scenario. Over the decades, so many employees of the Stauffer family business have given back to where they live, as well.
Though not alumni of Perkiomen themselves, the Stauffers have always had a direct connection to campus because of their relationship with the Schwenkfelder Church and the Chamber of Commerce. Luanne shares, “We understand the value of Perkiomen and its role [in the Upper Perkiomen Valley]. Because of Perkiomen, we have human resources who are all quality individuals that care about and are involved in the community! It’s a great equation.” The Stauffers appreciate how much Perkiomen offers in its educational opportunities, diversity in students, teachers, and administrators, and how much everyone at Perkiomen is engaged in the larger community. Citing Head of School Mark A. Devey, “Mark has also embraced the public school district. We want our whole community to support both types of education.”
Now that Luanne and Jeff have approached retirement, there will be more time for seeing their three sons, Ryan, Brandon, and Randall, along with their families, including 6 grandbabies (ages 5 months to 6 years old)!
Not surprisingly, both Luanne and Jeff also excitedly share that retirement will mean more quality time to give back to their community, including Perkiomen School, in meaningful ways. There is no reason to doubt this, as they have a long and much appreciated track record. For years, Perkiomen School has enjoyed the Stauffer Family Tennis Center, and especially so during the pandemic, when it has not only served as a venue for the school’s tennis teams and summer camp activity but also as an outdoor venue for the prom and school plays. And most recently, the Stauffer’s have again expressed their generosity by contributing to an exciting eGaming and technology space for the new student center.
Luanne reflects, “My job helped me be a convener and a facilitator of relationship development. The work that gets accomplished is not about the facilitator. It’s about the people who are willing to do the work in the community. I had the best possible job I could have had. It was really a privilege, and I felt that way about it the whole time. I was able to see and appreciate things in a new way. That’s why I appreciate Perkiomen. We have these people who work in our backyard and the leaders are our colleagues. They reach out and help others.”
The truth is a thriving town, school, or organization has had generations of “villagers” who have worked to bring us recreation, conveniences, and resources. We are grateful to Jeff and Luanne whose efforts reflect what they know in their hearts – giving back is mutually rewarding and essential to strong communities. Thank you, Luanne and Jeff for being important members of our village, Perkiomen School.