Joyce and Pete Vanderpool
A successful entrepreneur, speaker, and author, Pete has been a storyteller for over twenty years. Substituting at a mall in Wisconsin began a 22 year career as Santa Claus, and also led him into the storytelling genre. Since that time, he has been teaching, telling, and learning the art of storytelling, and is now also focusing on story gathering — teaching the art of creative storytelling and the use of the stories that comprise your life.
Pete has taught elementary school students to write, illustrate, and publish their own original stories. In addition, he has written many short inspirational stories. His book, Equipped to Bless: Finding Relevance in the Stories of Your Life is now available.
A successful business person in her own right, Joyce has worked beside her husband Pete in the capacity of what a friend calls "The Vice President of Everything". A member of the Cleveland Storytelling Guild, she is a sometime-storyteller and a trained emcee. But she is more likely to use story to illustrate her talks or press releases in her employment, community work and the programs of their non-profit The Santa Project, where they teach personal safety to children and adults.
Joyce enjoys just about anything creative, including photography, sewing , and writing of the stories that come through her life. She and Pete have four children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, all certainly supplying fodder for the stories of their 39 years of marriage.
Santa with the Burton boys.
In the third year of mall work, our founder, Pete Vanderpool, met a well-meaning parent who chastised Santa for several minutes
regarding child safety issues. Unable to disagree with her, Santa pondered her message with an eye to making a difference. It has often been said that one person can
make a difference, and so the concept of The Santa Project was begun.
At first, we didn't call it The Santa Project. It was just one Santa talking to kids about the dangers they might encounter during the busy Holiday Season at year-end. Eventually, we became a not-for-profit corporation and had an in-depth background check run on our Executive Director, Pete, who was the one in contact with the children. Many Head Start groups, kindergartens, and students through fifth grade have heard our lessons. Teachers and principals alike have been shocked at children’s response to the question, "Is Santa a stranger". If only the chastiser of several years ago knew how accurate and far-reaching her message was. Or maybe she did! It’s the rest of us who aren't aware!
The program has been refined over the last fifteen years. It has also been expanded to include the most recent advances in technology which pose serious and far reaching threats to our children. We are now expanding our programs to include creative storytelling and personal life story exploration.