A Few Good Men began as a stu­dent move­ment at Hills­dale Col­lege. As a Res­i­dent Assis­tant of Gal­loway Res­i­dence Hall, Ben Holscher chal­lenged the men of his dorm to a vol­un­teer com­pe­ti­tion to pro­mote ser­vice and sac­ri­fice and to build bridges to the com­mu­nity. They did so by com­plet­ing man­ual labor projects such as rak­ing leaves, paint­ing a shed, or mov­ing heavy objects. Requests for aid began to flow steadily in as the men of Gal­loway began to adver­tise their desire to serve the community.

As the semester-long com­pe­ti­tion drew to a close, Holscher won­dered what would become of those peo­ple who would no longer have a group of car­ing men to spring into action. Most of the peo­ple we served would have nowhere else to turn.

Dur­ing this time, Ben worked at a local food pantry. He real­ized that the peo­ple he served appre­ci­ated a smile and a lis­ten­ing ear more than their bag of gro­ceries. What they needed most was to know that some­one loved them and would not let them slip through the cracks of an increas­ingly imper­sonal society.

One man in par­tic­u­lar left a last­ing impres­sion. Bro­ken and weary, he had checked him­self into a local hos­pi­tal because he was starv­ing to death. He lived in a tiny trailer with­out elec­tric­ity in the mid­dle of a corn field. Some­how he had not qual­i­fied for aid from the gov­ern­ment, and he had no fam­ily will­ing to care for him. Even­tu­ally, even the hos­pi­tal told him they would not be able to help him fur­ther. Des­per­ate for help, the man came to the pantry. Moved by the man’s story, Ben offered his phone num­ber. The man took out a pen and a small pad and wrote it down. Above the num­ber, he wrote, “emer­gency friend.”

Ben never for­got the man and how much it had meant to him to know that he was not alone. In 2012, Ben turned the dorm com­pe­ti­tion into an orga­ni­za­tion call­ing men to action and lead­er­ship in defense of the weak. Soon women began to sup­port the mis­sion as well, and Edmund Burke’s quote “all that is nec­es­sary for the tri­umph of evil is that good men do noth­ing” inspired the name, A Few Good Men.

Start­ing in 2013, A Few Good Men grew from a col­lege vol­un­teer pro­gram into a com­mu­nity move­ment. With ten crews deploy­ing every week, we were able to com­plete hun­dreds of projects through­out Hills­dale County. The influ­ence of this activ­ity, com­bined with our part­ner­ship with high school stu­dents, churches, and busi­nesses, has inspired the com­mu­nity to adopt our mis­sion as its own.