Reverend Ray Wilke
Over six years ago, Reverend Ray Wilke had the opportunity to travel to Latvia (a country in the eastern block of Europe, formerly part of the USSR) and visit the members of the community there. During his stay in Latvia, he saw the great needs of the people, especially for the orphaned children and the poor who were suffering in the newly free Latvia. Upon his return to the United States, Wilke mobilized members of his church and community to start the Orphan Grain Train (OGT) movement. His goal was to provide clothing, food and medical supplies to help the orphans in Latvia survive.
Wilke is said to have begun his work with a passion. The first container of supplies was shipped early in 1993. Since then, over 200 forty-foot containers have been sent to the former Soviet Union, Africa, the U.S. and Latin America. These shipments have included the first portable medical/dental clinic in the Republic of Kazakhstan, equipping medical clinics in Panama and providing school supplies for over 74,000 children in Russia, Ethiopia, Brazil and Panama.
Today, volunteer centers of OGT have been established in Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, California and Colorado. Thousands of men, women and children give of their time and talents to reach out to those in need throughout the world. Volunteers have given over two million man-hours during the past 5 years to OGT.
Last year, Wilke made the national news with a project he started to assist ranchers in the Dakotas who had lost many cattle. "One Good Cow" was the program Wilke used to rally ranchers in the Midwest to donate one pregnant cow to a rancher in the affected areas of the Dakotas in an effort to replenish their herds. Wilke led a modern day "cattle drive" in the Dakotas with the first herd of relief animals.