When Charles Loper moved to Collin County with his family in early 1990s, he followed a familiar pattern of local successful businessmen, then and now. He built a successful business, grew the successful business, and began enjoy the fruits of his successful business: house, cars, other additions.
But in the three decades since, Loper, 76, has changed his life. Not only that, he feels that many local businessmen could make the same change, and moving from success and significance, to helping impoverished people just miles away from him and a half a world away.
“We had established a Loper Family Foundation to help other organizations in Collin County. But our money was growing so fast, I felt called to do more. I wanted to really know poverty and felt called to help out on a full-time basis,” Loper recalled.
So in 2011, Loper and his family established Grace Bridge food pantry and clothing outlet, first in Frisco, then in Celina and untimely several Collin County locations, asking Frisco’s Carter Morris to run and oversee it.
Then Loper took another step, one that would take him halfway across the world, to some of the poorest people in the world.
“We were housing a missionary in our office building in Frisco. One day I went into his office and asked him where he was from, and where he'd worked. He told me Uganda, which was the site of my very first mission trip with (McKinney’s) Warren Samuels,” he said. “I decided I was going to spend two weeks a month in Uganda for the next two years and see what I could do.”
The news of his new mission caught his family off guard.
“Dad, you’re 67 years old,” said his son, Chip. Chip is also the president of his two Frisco commercial businesses, Eagle Financial--which assists senior citizens with estate planning--and CLA USA insurance.
But Loper was undeterred. He began his monthly visits to Uganda, traveling not to the heart of the modern capital city, but to the poorest region, Kyotera.
There, in Eastern Uganda, he founded Master Cares Organization. Since then, his organization has built a K-12 grade school, a vocational school, and a fully functioning hospital. They have also built a working farm, and opened 70 clean water wells. Finally, they have launched a retail program for jewelry making and other products.
“I know we have saved 40 Ugandan kids a year from malnutrition, starvation, and death through the farms and the hospital,” Loper said. “We have educated 1,000 kids through the school who would have never had this education in their lives. We have saved girls from slavery and [sex trafficking] with our retails outlets.
“’I’m just doing what I feel the Lord has called me to do and it’s amazing what he has done.”
Loper is currently home waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine so that he and his wife, Carol, can return to Uganda. They now spend six months out of every year there. He simply shakes his head when he considered the path his Collin County business career has taken him.
“I’m in the education business and I never went to college myself. And I’m in the medical business and I have no background in medicine and I’m in the farming business and I had never been in a farm in my life.
“I remember calling my son back home during one trip and saying he better be making a lot of money in the businesses there, because I’m spending millions here. Of course, a million Uganda schillings are worth about $270 dollars.”
But Loper is grateful to use his local private company profits to benefit Caring Bridge and Master Cares organizations.
“That’s easily the best money I’ve ever spent. Because the people over there are so appreciative of what we do.”
In Uganda, $1,000 will educate a child from a year, $300 will fund a patient in a malnutrition clinic and $3,500 will fund another clean water well.
His work has already gained the favorable attention of Uganda government officials. They allow Loper to import excess hospital equipment from the U.S. to the Master Cares hospital, located in Bethlehem, Uganda. They also permit him to give some to other medical facilities in the area.
Looper has had lots of success in his life, especially in business. But his life's work now, is about significantly changing lives for the better.
“You know, there are a lot of people in Collin County who are retired. They could move themselves from success to significance. That’s my goal: to have more people see this,” he said.
One such volunteer is Lon Johnson. Johnson retired from international work with Cola-Cola and later Dr Pepper five years ago. Now, he helps Loper full-time in his mission.
Johnson said that from the start, “Charles’ heart for others, locally and internationally,” impressed him.
Carter Morris, CEO of Grace Bridge, is another longtime helper. Prestonwood Baptist Church, with locations in Plano and Prosper, aids his cause. Loper typically also takes a group of volunteers to Uganda each summer.
“When you help people who can’t help you, you can change society from what they think is good to what is really best,” he said. “Why would I stop now? I’m having too much fun.”