Sharing Can Be a Blessing
Ezra Teshome, a Capitol Hill insurance agent and SU alumnus, enjoys the neighborhood near his office.
His business card carries the motto
"Service above Self," which says
a lot about Ezra Teshome's life
philosophy. This State Farm
insurance agent and Seattle University
alumnus—class of 1976—finds ways to give
25 cents of every dollar he earns to global
and local communities.
"If you're sincere, if people see you're
out there to help others, they'll trust
that and help you."
- Ezra Teshome, '76
"That sharing feels like a
blessing," says Teshome, a
native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
where he attended Nativity
Boys School run by Jesuits.
In his sunny State Farm
office at the corner of 13th
and East Pine, Teshome is surrounded by
photos, awards and memorabilia from his
efforts to support the Ethiopian community
here and abroad. He's especially known
for his work in Ethiopia to eradicate polio,
develop low-income housing, construct a library,
create a computer center and provide
clean water to several villages in Ethiopia
Teshome and his wife Yobi, a 1983 graduate
of the College of Nursing, became U.S.
citizens and chose Seattle as home. Soon he was president of the University District Rotary
Club and convinced Rotarians to help
him start Rotary Village in Addis Ababa to
house Ethiopian refugees. Teshome led Rotarians
in an ambitious program to eradicate
polio in rural Ethiopia. They made a doorto-door campaign to encourage vaccination. No new cases of polio have been recorded in
Ethiopia for more than three years.
There's a big earthenware jug under
Teshome's front office window, a reminder of
the impact he had when water and sanitation
facilities were added to more than 40 villages
in rural Ethiopia. Rotarians and World
Vision were involved in the effort.
"The results make me want to do more,"
says Teshome. "So many children might have
died or suffered from water-borne illness had
we not filtered clean water into reservoir tanks."
Here in Seattle, he mentors SU students at
the Albers School of Business and Economics.
He also chaired a foundation that raised
funds to build St. Gebriel's, Seattle's first
orthodox Ethiopian church, which celebrated
its 10th anniversary this year.
Teshome won the 2010 World Citizen
Award from the World
Affairs Council and was
named a Global Health
Hero by TIME Magazine.
Front and center on his
office desk, however, is the
Community Service Award
he received from the university
at the 2011 Alumni Awards celebration.
Teshome reflects on his 30-plus years with
State Farm as well as his SU education.
"It's the integrity of State Farm, the fact
that we pay what we owe and make sure the
customer's interests are covered ahead of
our own. Fulfilling those promises are the
most satisfying for me," he says. "If you're
sincere, if people see you're out there to help
others, they'll trust that and help you. That's
something SU taught me and I continue to
give back and count my blessings."