Opportunity Knocks for Gunthers to Show Love to Neighbors

Melinda (Bissell) (G92) and Paul Gunther (G94)

Melinda (Bissell) Gunther (G92) and Maria Scott’s friendship started with a knock at the door.

Scott is a senior living alone in the community of Chandler, Ariz. One day, she opened her door to find Gunther there, asking if she needed anything – home repairs, yard work, maintenance, anything. All free of charge. Scott was certain she was being scammed, but Gunther came back – over and over again.

That’s what Melinda and husband Paul Gunther (G94) do.

Her heart for service began after a high school missions trip to Mexico, and was solidified by a class with former George Fox sociology professor Mike Allen. The course helped her realize she could put her passion into action through social work, building connections with those around her.  

After getting married, moving to Guatemala, and then moving again to Arizona, she began wondering why so many choose to go to foreign places to do development work when there are often people in need right next door. So she asked a connection in the city of Chandler to show her the neighborhoods no one sees. This experience opened Gunther’s eyes to the struggling parts of her city.

Live Love began as an annual day of service in an underserved Chandler neighborhood. Since 2007, it has become an organization that helps volunteers create relationships with those in need. This process of investing in others’ lives can be, Gunther says, “excruciatingly painful and beautiful all at the same time.”

Their most recent project involves a major home renovation. Two years ago, Live Love purchased the main gang and meth-producing home in the neighborhood. Their goal: turn a negative influence into something positive. This house has now become a central hub for the community, hosting everything from workshops to karate classes.

Live Love isn’t stopping there. Next, they plan to ease the way to home ownership for those who are committed to the neighborhood. The Gunthers will be first, having made the decision to live where they serve.

Gunther’s motivation is simple. “I cannot stand thinking there are people out there who feel alone and truly believe that no one cares about them,” she says. “As Christians, we love not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Recently, it was Gunther’s turn to receive a knock on her door. It was Scott, now one of Live Love’s most loyal supporters, holding a $500 check from the local CBS affiliate (video). Scott had shared her story with the news station, providing an opportunity to give back to the woman who wouldn’t stop knocking.

So, with the power of Christ and big smiles, Melinda and Paul plan to continue living out their love for the Chandler community. After all, there are many more doors to knock on.