Jennie: Nicaragua’s Corner of Love Mission and Asheville Distilling Company’s Troy Ball

JENNIE Show Episode 45

WJBF's Jennie Montgomery with Troy Ball, of Troy & Sons whiskey


TELEVISION PARK–  Buckle up, because this next 30 minutes is going to be a wild ride… with two tough and talented women!

Troy Ball, the first woman licensed to distill hard liquor in the United States, has an amazing story of grit and grace. So much love and hardship behind Troy & Sons whiskies — but I’ll let her tell you about it a little later.  But first, I want to share one woman’s courageous and ambitious story… all the way from Nicaragua.

WJBF’s Jennie Montgomery and Tanya Mroczek-Amador in San Ramon, Nicaragua.



(Video courtesy: ZACK ELLEDGE)

Two weeks ago I was in the beautiful mountains in the outskirts of Matagalpa … a lush setting with lots of tropical plants, fruit trees, coffee, nut, and teak wood trees. I was serving on a medical and vision trip with my Aldersgate United Methodist Church missions team.

Aldersgate UMC mission team to Nicaragua 7/1/17

Tanya and Nelson Amador run the Corner of Love mission in San Ramon. With medical backgrounds, their primary concern is treating the sick and making sure children have the clean water, vaccinations and nutrition they need to thrive.

One of their newest projects is the Corner of Love milk program, which aims to serve up to 2,000 children each week in villages around San Ramon.

Think about that… we take milk for granted: it’s abundant and we can grab it at the grocery store anytime. They’re still $30,000 shy of their goal to implement this large-scale nutrition program, but Tanya is a force, and I think you’ll see that she can move mountains!
The day we shot this interview she was seeing patients in their beautiful new plaza, with electricity and indoor bathrooms– something many of the surrounding neighbors don’t have.


(Interview with Tanya  Mroczek-Amador, founder and CEO worldwide/Corner of Love follows…)

I wanted to know, first of all, how a woman who lived in a cosmopolitan city like Seattle, became so interested in helping poor people in Nicaragua? First I fell in love with a Nicaraguan! And then he brought me here and then I think I fell in love with the people here, just so profoundly, so deeply.  The first trip that we came here there was a woman who gave birth in town here, on the street, and her baby was born right there in the dirt. Nelson took me over to see this baby and it was just breathtaking, it was so incredible I couldn’t believe it was happening right in front of my eyes. You know, just the blood and the smells and everything, and I just thought, Wow, (that was 1992) this is 1992 and this is going on? It was like Biblical times or something, that somebody could be born in such primitive conditions. So, that just really touched my heart and we went back to Seattle and had our kids, and then started thinking, well, what can we do in Nicaragua?

And, you’re a medic? Yes.

And you live in the mountains here in Nicaragua, where you’re at Corner of Love, and this is different from the more metropolitan Managua, it doesn’t have any of the social services and what not, so how did you go about establishing Corner of Love?  So first, we came to Nelson’s hometown of San Ramon, and there was a lack of services, but it is a town. And people were very, very poor going into those health centers, but there just wasn’t any medicine for treatment and things like that. So, we started helping them and then we realized that the real needy people were even further out. And so, we went to the next village. And the next year, the next village… and started going further out each time and we started bringing teams here, and with the help of our church got going and just saw the great, great medical need. It’s really huge, people need so much.

How many teams do you host a year? Right now we’re at about 28 teams per year.

And you’ve thought the whole mission trip through before a team comes? I mean, you’ve got all the contacts so if a team wants to come, you get them plugged in?  Yes. And even though we have that many teams we are always looking for more teams, we are always looking for more people to come and serve. And yes, the work usually starts about 4-6 months in advance. We send our staff out, we select the villages and we work with local churches, talk with the pastors, they’re good at helping us distribute the tickets, and our folks go out and try to find the sickest people, the ones who need the tickets the most, and we check out the location and all that. And then by the time the group comes in we’ve gone through all of the processes, exonerating their cargo luggage so we can bring those things in tax-free into Nicaragua, and licensing the doctors, dentists and nurses and things like that so that we’re ready to go! As soon as they hit the ground, that’s what we like to do, we’re ready to go.

You have your own children. So, how did you balance your time when you were raising your family and doing mission work? Well, when they were little it was a little bit easier because we would bring them here to Nicaragua. They’d go to school here, either in Matagalpa or San Ramon, we got homeschool teachers and all that. But then as they got older, it’s harder to miss when you’re in high school and so forth, it was though. It was very tough because we had to be here, and they were so far away in Washington state. So, balance has been tough over the years…

You know, isn’t that true of working mothers all over, whatever we’re doing?  Absolutely, cause there’s just so many things you’re trying to do. You’re trying to get them ready for school and get them prepared and have all the things they need. We’ve also had a lot of help, cause since we’re missionaries friends and family have helped out with our kids. Sometimes it’s hard to ask cause we’re so far away, but thank goodness people have helped us because we have four. Two boys and two girls!

How many people have you helped in Nicaragua? Do you have any idea the numbers? Well, we usually treat about 30,000 a year. It’s been quite a few years, so I think for about 9 or 10 years now we’ve averaged right at 30,000 per year. Some years maybe 32,000, some maybe 28,000.

And I want to make sure I’m clear about this: the services that you’re able to provide depend upon the volunteer teams that come? Absolutely! Because with them they bring two pieces of cargo, two 50-pound suitcases each, and we usually ship them medication or they’ll collect in their communities things that we need. And, of course, they bring their healthcare experience, too.

And it’s easier for them to do the work here in Nicaragua on that temporary basis than if the Nicaraguan doctors were trying to.  Right, right, right. So, the way we’re set up we license foreign teams and we’ve been doing that for many, many years. We hope to some day employ some Nicaraguan doctors, we probably will, but that will be in the future for us and then that will change how we do all of our regulation paperwork.

How long have you had the Plaza here? The Plaza has just recently opened and we’re very excited about it. It took us about 6 years to build and it’s been about one year that we’ve been in these finished walls. So we used to work in here even when we had a roof and dirt floors, just because we needed the space so bad somewhere. But we’re so, so happy now that it’s done!

And yesterday we worked on dirt floors!  Yes, yes you did, thank you very much!

So you really mean that when you say ‘dirt floors,’ you mean dirt floors!  Oh yes! Very, very primitive conditions like you saw. Very primitive.

What do you want team members to remember when they leave here? What do you want Corner of Love to mean to these folks? I want people to remember how easy it was to give love, and what it felt like to get it back, because the Nicaraguans who get the medicine and get the treatment- they’re so appreciative and they really need the help. And I know when the Americans are here, and sometimes we have Canadians and other folks, I know when they sit across the table from them and hear those words from them, it doesn’t go away, you know, you keep it in your heart. And so, I also hope that goes home and grows their desire to help people in need, and I think God gives us a heart for different places, and some people have a heart for other countries but we want to grow people’s hearts for Nicaragua!

Tanya  Mroczek-Amador was recently named a Fellow in the 13th class of the Central American Leadership Initiative. CALI fellows are selected because of their high-integrity, entrepreneurial leadership skills, with leadership potential to positively influence social and economic development in their countries.



WJBF’s Jennie Montgomery with Troy Ball, of Troy & Sons whiskey

Meet an amazing woman who has taken on huge challenges: Troy Ball is the first woman to distill hard liquor in the United States!  This “Moonshine Mama” is the founder of Asheville Distilling Company, in beautiful Asheville, NC, maker of Troy & Sons whiskies.

Just wait till you hear her story of raising -two- special needs sons for 25 years, and still pursuing her passion.

And if you are visiting Asheville, North Carolina, plan to take a tour of Troy’s distillery, Asheville Distilling CompanyThe tours are at 5:00 & 6:00 on Friday and Saturday evenings.  More information here.

The website also has a collection of cocktail recipes you may want to try.  Or watch the videos!

(From press release)

Troy Ball and her husband, Charlie, an engineer and real estate developer, had spent their entire lives in Texas. But after a near fatal trip to the emergency room with their non-verbal, wheelchair-bound son Marshall, they admitted the dust and the heat were too dangerous. To save their boys, the Balls cashed out, sold their beloved farm, and moved to Asheville, North Carolina.

Nearing 50, Troy thought her chance at adventure had passed. But in this booming little Appalachian Mountain city of hippies, farmers, artisans and retirees, she unexpectedly discovered a support network and something shed never had in 25 years of providing round-the-clock care for her special needs boys: the freedom to pursue her own dreams.

She struck up a friendship with a legendary 80-year-old raconteur from the mountains, met his friends, and soon found herself in a rickety country shack with an ingeniously inventive retired farmer trying to create the best recipe ever for traditional mountain moonshine.

But when the real estate bubble burst and the collapse of her husband Charlie’s new venture in Asheville left them deeply in debt, Troy realized her 10-year business plan for Troy & Sons Platinum Whiskey wasn’t enough. If she were going to save her family–and she was definitely going to save her family–she needed to become the most successful woman in the legal whiskey business. And, she needed to do it fast, before the bank took her house, her business, and everything shed worked so hard to achieve.

Full of eccentric characters and charming locations, from a “haunted” cabin in the mountains to the last farm in the world to grow heritage Crooked Creek corn. Pure Heart is a charming story of a woman who set out to find a purpose in the most unexpected of places, and ended up finding happiness, contentment, and a community of love and respect.

Troy lives outside Asheville, North Carolina with Charlie and two of their three grown sons, Marshall and Coulton, who have special needs. The book is a memoir of her struggles and success.

Troy is the founder and principal owner of Asheville Distilling Company in Asheville, North Carolina, makers of Troy & Sons Platinum whiskey, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve, and Blonde whiskey. Troy & Sons Platinum recently received a gold medal for moonshine, the highest possible rating.

“We only use the sweet spot,” Troy’s husband Charlie said of their ingredients. He was referring to the alcohol derived from the middle of the distillation process, known as the heart or the nectar of the gods, which yields the most flavor and the cleanest taste. Troy’s whiskies are handmade from the pure heart of each distillation.

Their son, Marshall Stewart Ball is an author too. His book Kiss of God, a collection of inspired writings by a developmentally challenged boy written almost 20 years ago, with an introduction by Coldplay’s Chris Martin.



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