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Archive for the 'Service' Category

Service Day extends—alumni take Messiah College service initiatives beyond campus

Monday, April 7th, 2014

On April 10, students and faculty will participate in Messiah College’s annual Service Day. This year Service Day will extend to Service Week with Messiah alumni serving through on- and off- campus projects, either directly engaging with Service Week, or honoring Service Day by completing projects in their own backyards.

Service Day “is designed to help fulfill Messiah College’s mission to prepare students for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.” As they live the lives Messiah College prepared them for, alumni wanted to continue serving together, says Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Brittany Claridge ’10. “Alumni wanted to find a way to share and connect their spirit of service back to the tradition of Service Day here on campus. A commitment to service has continued to be a common thread in our alumni community since the College’s beginnings.” (more…)

Water and sanitation access: increasing hope for persons with disabilities

Monday, November 18th, 2013

While completing field interviews in rural Mali, I met a young man with disabilities who was living in his parents’ home. As a child he contracted a disease which left him unable to walk. As my colleagues and I began to interact with him, he excitedly showed us a complex system of wires and old batteries that he had assembled. When he touched two of the wires together, several small lights illuminated across an old wooden board. A wide smile flashed across his face as he showed us this amazingly complex system he had designed from the simplest of materials.

As the conversation continued, we were informed that this young man had almost never left his parents’ home. When we asked the reasons for this, his mother immediately discussed the stigmatization and dangers he would face in the community. She explained that some may attribute his impairment to demonic forces and as a result their family would be the targets of extreme discrimination. (more…)

Student travels to Argentina with faith the size of a mustard seed

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Brittany Horst in ArgentinaI couldn’t believe it. After months of anticipation and expectation, my field hockey team and I were leaving in the morning to travel to Argentina on a mission trip. Anxiousness and worry crept inside me, and I was beginning to doubt that the trip was a good idea. All of the teams coordinated through Messiah’s sports ministry effort—AROMA, a Revolution of Missional Athletes—teams that night to go on a prayer walk to prepare our hearts and minds for what we were about to encounter. The whole time I was praying but still felt uneasy about the trip. When we arrived at our destination by the creek, we sang as a group and a girl from the volleyball team shared Luke 17:6; “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” This verse caught a hold of me and I prayed, “God, I feel as though my faith about this trip is the size of the mustard seed, but here it is if you would like to use it.”

God works in amazing ways. Upon our arrival, our team was treated as celebrities and served Argentina’s specialty meal that includes lots of meat. We had several opportunities to not only teach young girls field hockey skills but also have fun with them. Even with the language barrier, we were able to connect with the children while playing the sport we love. (more…)

Bringing relationships, sports, clean water and hope to Uganda

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Messiah College student Victoria HeppAs we descended into Uganda after 24+ travel hours, a cloud of excitement hovered over our AROMA team, much like the clouds of unearthed red dirt that would soon linger over our missional feet. Our team of athletes, coaches, trainers, alum and Sawyer Representatives had been preparing for months leading up to this trip and we were finally here, a little nervous but filled with expectant hope of God’s working on our trip. We walked out into the parking lot and were immediately greeted by staff from the Sports Outreach Institute (SOI) group that we would be partnering with for the next 10 days. Hearing their laughter and welcoming words reassured us that this would be a great journey of relationship-building, sports-playing, water-filtering and hope-rising. (more…)

White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships invites Messiah College to participate in round-table discussion

Monday, March 5th, 2012

On Feb. 7, Chad Frey, director of Messiah College’s Agape Center for Service and Learning, and Hope Hess ‘12, student director of outreach, participated alongside Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney, superintendent of the Harrisburg School District, in a round-table discussion facilitated by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

This is not the first time Messiah has partnered with the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  This past summer, Messiah joined the White House’s Interfaith Campus Community Challenge, which encourages increased student service in the community.

The round-table discussion focused on the role of faith-based organizations and colleges in helping low performing schools and a possible partnership between those organizations and the White House. Since the discussion, the partnership, entitled “Together for Tomorrow,” has been announced by the Obama administration. (more…)

Winning off the field

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The Messiah College soccer teams are passionate about finding ways to use their talent to impact the lives around them, reaching beyond the fan section at Shoemaker Field. What started with tutoring at local churches elevated into summer camps with local refugees and eventually led to a new vision for sports ministry at Messiah College.

The call to engage in local outreach began when Aaron Faro, the assistant coach for the men’s soccer team, joined the Messiah community in 2009. Before accepting a coaching position at Messiah, Faro played for the Charlotte Eagles, a professional soccer team that engages in sport ministry. His experiences were testimony to the power of using sport as a form of ministry, and he passed a shared enthusiasm onto his players at Messiah. (more…)

Students, alums serve children in uptown Harrisburg

Monday, August 1st, 2011

On any Monday night during fall or spring semester, all of her friends know where to find Hope Mead – in the Uptown neighborhood of Harrisburg. Each week, she leads a group of students to serve 20 to 30 inner-city children at Abba’s Place.

Abba’s Place is a 14-year-old ministry that started at New Heritage Christian Church when Messiah College students attending the church noticed the need for more adults to serve the children’s ministry. Since its inception, this weekly Bible School ministry has been led by Messiah students and sustained through alumni involvement under the direction of the church’s pastor, Scott Barkley.

According to Barkley, “Abba’s Place, from where we stand, serves as a line of defense in terms of deterring children from a life of drugs, crime, teenage pregnancy, poverty and other negative life paths.” Through the program, Messiah students have influenced children to complete high school and go to college.

Student leadership
An art education major graduating in 2012, Mead began serving at Abba’s Place during her first year at Messiah.  She kept coming back because she grew to love the kids she serves. “Seeing each one of their smiling faces every week was so encouraging and a wonderful break from the intensity of classes and homework.”

By Mead’s sophomore year, she was ready to step into a leadership role which includes organizing and recruiting student volunteers for Abba’s Place. She has identified a large number of benefits for Messiah students who volunteer with the ministry. “They get an opportunity to focus on someone other than themselves, to learn about another culture, to be encouraged by the love, the joy and the energy of the kids.” Messiah students also benefit from an upfront look at the needs of the local community.                    

Abba’s Place would not run without Messiah students. They are the playground supervisors, the worship leaders, the planners, the teachers, and the friends of the children.

Alumni involvement
When Abba’s Place started it had a mascot, Duct Tape Man. Fourteen years later, Duct Tape Man or Chad Swartzentruber ’00 is still serving the ministry—albeit without a duct tape mask or cape. Affectionately known to the group as “Mr. Chad,” he works in the church’s daycare and has become a cornerstone in children’s lives in the community. 

Throughout the years, students have become attached to the community and the children and find themselves still involved with Abba’s Place years after graduation. According to Swartzentruber, “Alumni give continuity to the program. They help teach the new volunteers what to do. They help the children adjust to new people.”

Barkley understands that Messiah students and alumni are receiving as well as giving through their involvement with Abba’s Place. “I have stated for years to new students that while you are coming into the ‘hood’ to give of yourselves, I promise that you will take back to the campus more than what you left with in terms of the experience. The alumni, if they hang around, are able to see firsthand a ‘return on their investment’ – far exceeding any investment on Wall Street.” 

Abba’s Place serves children ages pre-kindergarten to fourth grade on Monday nights and children ages fifth grade through high school on Wednesday nights during the school year.

If you are interested in learning more about Abba’s Place and how you can be involved, contact the Agape Center for Service and Learning at 717-796-1800, ext. 7255.
Story by Rachel Crownover `09, a member of the College’s Alumni Council and volunteer at Abba’s Place since 2006.

Book bags cheer Kenyan children

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Junior Roxanne Benedict traveled to Kenya during a May 2010 cross-cultural course, and returned to campus inspired and motivated to positively impact the lives of Kenyan children affected by poverty and AIDS.

Together with Dawn Gearhart, instructor of family and consumer sciences, Benedict, a family and consumer sciences major, devised a plan to sew book bags; fill them with school supplies, hygiene products, books and notes of encouragement; and deliver them to Kenyan children.

Benedict, through participation in the Pennsylvania Family and Consumer Sciences Conference in Gilbertsville, Pa., in October of 2010 was able to secure additional assistance from family and consumer science majors across the state. Soon the project was embraced by dozens of like-minded students and professors.

“I just felt God’s hand was behind it all,” said Benedict. Students spent class time sewing the bags from materials provided by teachers and parents. (more…)

Taking to the streets

Monday, February 14th, 2011

A typical Friday night for students Isaac Won, Kevin Manieri, and Andy Breighner consists of driving into Harrisburg, parking along Front Street, and talking to homeless men.

Last fall, one Sunday after church, they spontaneously began to talk somewhat casually about doing something like this. The idea didn’t go away. Later that day, they bought food at Walmart and went into Harrisburg to find anyone who may need some help.

Now, along with other men from the Men’s Ministry at Messiah College, they go to the Front Street area just to talk to the homeless men who are waiting for the Bethesda Mobile Mission van. Typically between five to 10 men from Messiah College go every Friday.

“The goal was to build friendships,” said Manieri. He says there are many opportunities for the homeless to get a meal or a place to sleep in Harrisburg, but the real need is for individual needs to be met.

“The biggest need is hope, because they believe they are in a hopeless situation,” said Manieri. (more…)

In sickness and in health

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

blood pressure screening

Imagine that you are the parent of a toddler who is ill and exhibiting symptoms such as a fever and sore throat. You live in Steelton, and your child’s doctor’s appointment is in downtown Harrisburg. You must use the bus system to get to the office. The doctor examines your child and orders more tests at a separate facility, so you have to take the bus to yet another location. After more waiting in another medical office, you and your exhausted and ill child still have the bus ride home, complete with several connections, ahead of you.

Such is a sample scenario that a senior student in associate nursing professor Wanda Thuma-McDermond’s community health clinical rotation might receive, along with a bus pass so that they can maneuver the city under conditions similar to what their community health clients might face. (more…)