Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Students experience the power of service, prayer

The sky was blue and full of sunshine on September 29 as the busyness of the day unfolded. On Multnomah’s campus, about 30 graduate and seminary students were gathering for Day of Prayer. Off campus, 150 undergraduate students were serving the neighboring community for Day of Outreach.


'A great connector'

Once every fall and spring, undergraduate students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit, a community center, a school. Even a MAX station. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

The commuters waiting to ride the nearby MAX Light Rail brightened up as Multnomah students offered them steaming cups of coffee and fresh donuts. Freshman Megan Flikkema loved the opportunity to brush shoulders with people she wouldn’t normally meet.

“It’s a great connector,” she said. “It’s an easy way to pass out breakfast and talk about Jesus.” Flikkema was right: Many students took time to engage in meaningful conversations with people they encountered, listening intently to their life stories.

Summit student Trevor Grant saw Day of Outreach as a way to respond: “In the last three months, I’ve really been convicted about how much we’re called to help out in the community,” said the freshman. “So [Day of Outreach] is good timing.”


'Faith without works is nothing'

Not far down the road from the MAX station, another group of students wandered through the Montavilla neighborhood, praying for their neighbors while they searched for trash littering the yards, gutters and sidewalks. Although a seemingly small act, the residents responded positively. One man even hollered his sincere thanks from his car before turning onto the busy street.

“It’s important, especially at Multnomah, to get out into the community,” said Brittany Bowling, a business and organizational psychology major.

Hebrew major Darren Warren stuffed some litter from the street gutter into a large plastic bag. “Faith without works is nothing,” said the freshman. “Being the hands and feet of God is precisely what God is all about.” You could tell Warren meant every word — he looked eager to support the event’s mission.


'God weaves our stories'

Back on campus, graduate and seminary students were gathered together for a morning of prayer and fellowship. Daytime classes were cancelled so students could step back from studies and set aside time dedicated to seeking God. The quaint and quiet prayer chapel proved to be the perfect setting for the event.

Master of Divinity student Aimee Pahl was the organizer for Day of Prayer. She was deeply encouraged by what took place during the prayer time, and was especially impressed by students’ vulnerability as they lifted each other’s requests to the Lord. “[God] weaves our stories so that we understand each other, especially when we’re praying for one another,” she said.

The three-hour prayer session brought Kā‘ili Wells some much needed peace. “I just needed to reconnect with God,” said the seminary student. “I needed worshipful, prayerful rest.” Wells also mentioned the importance of creating a time and a place for seminary and graduate students to come together; with their schedules, it can be easy for them to become exclusive.

Although there has been a lot going on in Wells' life, he left Day of Prayer feeling refreshed. “It’s funny, because I’m tired,” he said, chuckling. “But I also feel rejuvenated.” The power of prayer does some amazing things.

‘Our outreach is extensive’: Students volunteer down the street, across the world

Collectively, Multnomah students provide more than 38,000 hours to communities each year — and their contributions span the globe.

They serve as role models for at-risk teens in Portland. They partner with nonprofit agencies in the greater community. And this Friday, the men’s basketball team is heading to Taiwan for a trip filled with service projects, community outreach and basketball games.

The Lions will compete in nine games, including Lovelife, a high-profile annual event that raises awareness and money for children with cancer. Teammates will present the Good News during each half-time.

“This trip is important because it’s an exceptional opportunity to share the gospel,” says sophomore business major Tanner Schula. “God has blessed us with the platform of basketball for ministry. Through basketball, we can first connect with the Taiwanese on a personal basis — and then share Christ.”

During the nine-day trip, the Lions will visit several schools, churches and an assisted living facility.

“It’s exciting that a small Christian school can have such a large capacity for ministry,” says Schula, “This trip displays Multnomah’s expansive reach.”

‘What Multnomah is all about’

Head Basketball Coach Curt Bickley puts a heavy emphasis on outreach and community service; he’s led his teams on mission trips to the Czech Republic and Taiwan for the past seven years. This is the fifth time the Lions are traveling to Taiwan.

“We’re looking forward to seeing old friends, spreading the Gospel, and playing basketball in a great place,” says Bickley. “It’s very exciting that our university has such an emphasis on mission work and that we get to take part in such a great trip.”

The athletes don’t stop serving when they’re back in the States. For the past eight years, the Lions have hosted a free basketball clinic for children at a Native American reservation in Washington. The clinic gives the team an opportunity to impart their skills — and share their faith. “Kids have gotten saved at these events,” says Bickley.

The Lions also volunteer at Providence Children’s Hospital, just down the street from campus. The athletes connect with boy and girls, some of them terminally ill, for a few hours each week. They play games, read, color or just talk.

“Our outreach is extensive,”says Bickley. “This team reflects what Multnomah is all about.”

Communicating values through action

The trip to Taiwan closely follows another service event Multnomah has observed for decades — Day of Outreach. Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor’s home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

Senior psychology major Brenna Coy has been attending Day of Outreach since she transferred to MU as a sophomore. “Volunteering encourages me and other students to reach out to our neighborhood,” she says. “It builds bridges in the community.”

Theology and philosophy professor Dr. Mike Gurney agrees. He appreciates the opportunity to impact local organizations while interacting with students outside the classroom. Multnomah requires half of its professors to participate in each Day of Outreach event.

“As Christians, it’s not just about what we say; it’s also about what we do,” he says. “We want to communicate our values through action.”

One fall, Gurney and Coy joined a group of student volunteers at Portland Metro Arts (PMA), a nonprofit community arts organization in Southeast Portland. For several hours they dusted, wiped, polished and swept.

Nancy Yeamans, PMA’s executive director, supervised as students bustled around her. A vacuum hummed in the background, and the smell of Windex hung in the air.

“I know you think that cleaning is probably not a big deal,” she said. “But to us it’s a huge deal because we rely a lot on volunteers. It’s meaningful beyond what you can imagine.”

‘We need to love people’

Besides international trips and Day of Outreach, students participate year-round in Service Learning, a campus-based program that connects them with local nonprofits. Students volunteer weekly at more than 70 organizations across the Portland metro area. They also gain priceless wisdom from field specialists who double as mentors.

“We’re committed to helping students integrate what they’re learning in the classroom with real life,” says Service Learning Director Dr. Roger Trautmann. “Whatever service God puts on their hearts is a possibility. From skateboarding to helping the homeless, from children’s ministry to working with seniors, we can connect them with more than 1,500 churches, ministries and service organizations.”

Sophomore Bible and theology major Katie Mansanti says Service Learning connected her to Adorned in Grace Design Studio, an outreach to at-risk teen girls in Northeast Portland. People donate all kinds of fabrics to the nonprofit, where volunteers like Mansanti teach the girls how to sew. The studio aims to prevent sex trafficking by empowering young women to become advocates on behalf of their sisters and friends.

Volunteers provide snacks, help with homework, offer workshops, run a mentorship program and lead a Bible study. “This is a safe place for them to hang out after school and have someone to talk to,” Mansanti says.

Mansanti’s knack for sewing and heart for teens was a perfect fit for the studio. “It’s nice to take something that’s second nature to me and share it with these girls,” she says. “We all need someone to nudge us along and tell us we’re doing a good job.”

Volunteering may be a time commitment for students, but Mansanti doesn’t see it as a burden. “Service Learning allows you to give back,” she says. “Helping people is important to God. We need to love people and be Jesus to them.”

Spring Thaw energizes, educates 650 students

Whimsical obstacle courses, lanky wooden structures and exotic Egyptian relics peppered campus. Youth Ministry Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand and his youth ministry majors had spent months building props, planning games and booking entertainment. Now they waited. Anticipation hung in the air.

Buses and vans packed with youth groups slowly rolled into parking lots. Hildebrand watched as 650 high school students began pouring into campus. Then he began to cry.

“It was beautiful to see their energy and excitement over the work we put into it,” he says. “This event says to them, ‘You’re important to us, you’re important to the church, and we love you.’”

‘A catalyst for community’

Spring Thaw 15 Blog 1For Hildebrand, every piece of Spring Thaw is significant. The wild games, the powerful speakers, the silly comedy sketches and the rich theology seminars each play a distinct role in developing students during the three-day retreat.

“Some people think they should be in classes all day, but you can’t expect them to be able to sit down for 20 hours and listen,” says Hildebrand. “The truth is that we learn from watching people and interacting with them. Activities break down barriers between kids and their leaders. It’s a catalyst for community.”

Hunter Johnson, a junior from Mountainview Church, agrees. “I’ve been bonding with my youth mentor this weekend,” he says.

STcamel_featureimageStudents were treated to a variety of activities during the weekend, including bacon bonfires, real-life Mario Kart, a petting zoo, limo rides and a color war. April Fancher-McKinzie, a sophomore from Central Bible Church, loved meeting Curly, a towering camel who visited campus Saturday afternoon.

“Spring Thaw brings youth groups closer to each other, and we get to meet new people,” she says.

‘We’re learning from the best’

But Hildebrand doesn’t stop with games and entertainment. Spring Thaw hosts a main speaker who teaches four sessions during the event. There are also four theology seminars led by Multnomah professors.

STtheology_featureimage“The theology seminars are something I love about this retreat,” says Hildebrand. “Sometimes youth ministry can be shallow. But kids are deeper than you realize; they grapple with tough issues. This is a way they can hear from thinkers who have spent many years studying the deep issues of life.”

Fancher-McKinzie attended Stump the Prof, a seminar where Dr. Brad Harper answered students’ theology questions, which included:

  • How do you know if God speaks to you?
  • Is war ever OK?
  • Does God love something because it’s right or is it right because he loves it?
  • Can you be gay and be a Christian?
  • How does free will work when God is in control of everything?

“It addressed a lot of questions that come up in everyday life,” says Fancher-McKinzie.

Austin Thompson, a senior from Gladstone First Baptist Church, feels the same way. “The seminar was very beneficial to me,” he says. “It helped me understand the Bible more clearly.”

He was also impressed by the professors’ knowledge. “I feel like we’re learning from the best,” he says. “They are people to look up to.”

Supporting the work of the kingdom

Spring Thaw 15 Blog 2It’s Thompson’s second year at Spring Thaw, and he’s soaking in all the information he can. “I’ve only been a Christian for two years, so everything I take in is new to me,” he says. “I’ve become spiritually closer to God and am learning more of his Word.”

Hildebrand says that’s what Spring Thaw is all about. “This event allows us to utilize the assets the Lord has blessed us with to support the work of the kingdom in dozens of our area churches,” he says. “We’ve had people say, ‘Spring Thaw changed my life,’ but really it’s Jesus who changed their life.”

“You guys put a lot of effort into Spring Thaw,” says Thompson. “And it’s not about getting people to attend MU — it’s a chance for people to come together. I think that’s an amazing, selfless thing for a university to do.”

Service with a smile: Students build friendships off campus

A cloudy sky and thin veil of rain greeted more than 130 Multnomah University students as they left campus to participate in Day of Outreach on September 23.

Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor's home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

OutreachFall2014_1"Now we get to give"

The living room at ElderPlace Laurelhurst, a care facility for seniors on Glisan Street, is a bright space filled with round tables where students talk and laugh with elderly men and women over cups of juice and coffee. Colorful flags hang from the ceiling and a giant white teddy bear looks down from an old piano.

Senior Olivia Morud is chatting with Phyllis, a curly-haired woman with blotchy hands and tiny glasses. The two have just finished playing a card game. Morud, an English major from Scappoose, Ore., says she loves being able to listen. "They have so much to say, so many stories," she says. "As students, we are given so much in the classroom. Now we get to give."

Volunteering is important, she says, because Jesus was a servant. "He would be doing this if he was here today," she says."It's close to his heart."

OutreachFall2014_2"A real picture of the Gospel"

Volunteers at Harrison Park School on 87th Avenue, their shoes caked with soil, are constructing a community garden. Some students build raised garden beds while others clear away debris and pull weeds.

Freshman Kimberly Marshburn and junior Maggi Schlosser are filling a garden bed with dirt. Marshburn, a Bible and theology major from Bakersfield, Calif., has been attending MU for only a month, but she's excited to serve the community so soon.

"I was talking to some students the other day who were concerned that we'd become secluded at MU," she says. "But this day shows me that we're living what we say we are. School is the practice zone and then we get to go out and live life together. It's a real picture of the gospel."

"A desire to serve"

OutreachFall2014_4Just a few blocks from campus, senior Cory Howatt is starting a lawnmower in front of a small pink house. Dotty, an wispy woman with hunched shoulders and worn moccasins, looks over her property.

"I've lived in this house for 66 years," she says. "My husband died 30 years ago, and this yard is too much for me to keep up." She smiles. "You guys have been coming to see me for a long time now."

Several volunteer sites, including those featured in this story, are permanent fixtures on the sign-up sheet. That way, students can nurture
friendships over time.

OutreachFall2014_3Howatt, a pastoral ministry major from Koloa, Hawaii, says the day shows people who Christ is through students' service. "Who we get to work with is the best part," he says. "I get to meet people like Dotty."

"We serve out of a desire to serve," he adds. "We may not benefit from any compensation, but we benefit from building relationships."

Students Skip Class to Serve Portland

A blue sky and sunshine greeted more than 130 Multnomah University students as they left campus to participate in Day of Outreach on April 14.

Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community, including nonprofits, nursing homes, schools and community centers. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

‘Get a different perspective’

Chris Cleaverdayofoutreach_492, a full-time counselor at Multnomah, led a group of students to Door to Grace, a Portland nonprofit providing restorative care and safe shelter for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. The day home needed some TLC, so students took Windex to mirrors, vacuums to rugs and push brooms to sidewalks. Freshman Johanna Quezada carefully watered the small boxwood trees that stood in a line near the front door.

“This is definitely a cool opportunity,” said the TESOL major. “I love hearing about the different ministries here in Portland. My world can get so small because I live and work on campus, so it’s good to get outside and get a different perspective. We’re at MU for more than just time in the classroom.”

Olivia Botsford agreed. As she wiped the kitchen counters with a washcloth, the psychology major talked about how she appreciates a day devoted to helping neighbors. “We’re not just focused on getting our degrees,” she said. “We want to serve and be in the community, loving people in the real world.”

‘Be a light’

dayofoutreach_501Dean of Students Jon Mathis and Psychology Department Chair Dr. Elliott Lawless joined another group of students volunteering at Drive Away Hunger, the home of Portland Rescue Mission’s vehicle donation and sales program. The men took on yard work, sweeping, raking and cleaning and organizing the auto shop.

Danny Kugelburg, Community Partnership Lead at Drive Away Hunger, leaned against a blue Chevy as he explained the impact of volunteering. “You might not have direct contact with the people we’re helping, but what you’re doing is changing lives,” he said. “We’re a nonprofit that survives solely on the gift of volunteers.”

Kugelburg is an M.Div. student at Multnomah Seminary, so he’s familiar with the school’s  mission. But watching it come to life in the auto shop is inspiring. “Multnomah has a desire for its students not to be insulated, but to be a light in the community — in voice and in deed,” he said.

‘Actively love’

dayofoutreach_534At the Montavilla Community Center, Multnomah students sat at tables piled high with paper plates and colorful ribbons to craft decorations for the center’s upcoming Easter celebration. Sophomore Edwin Granados carefully cut the plates into half moon shapes as he spoke with fellow volunteers. The music major is on the student-led Day of Outreach planning committee and was in charge of promoting the event this season.

Granados said he loves the opportunity to branch out of the University and into the surrounding community. “It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “Our planning committee had a vision — that students could actively love in a way that will last beyond today. I hope this will be a kickoff for people to begin serving more frequently.”

Besides MU's two annual Day of Outreach events, MU students provide more than 100,000 hours of service to the community each year through the University's Student Ministries program

How have you been impacted by volunteer work? Share your thoughts below.

Students Volunteer At Aid Banquet

Comments Off Written on March 26th, 2010 by
Categories: Alumni, Financial Aid, General, Students

This is a follow-up post to the 2010 Student Aid Banquet.

March 6 AJ Volunteers 1Over the years of having our Student Aid Banquets, we've been really blessed to have so many students volunteer. Without their help, the donors would not have as good a time and the night would not be possible! Some of the tasks they help out with include:

  • Setting up the day before
  • Greeting and welcoming guests
  • Personally escorting them to the registration table
  • Assisting them in the parking lot
  • Sharing their story with donors
  • Coat check
  • Ushering to seats
  • Gathering Multnomah materials after banquet
  • Bringing materials back to Multnomah and unloaded van

Student Organized

This year Bible College Junior AJ Elzinga (3rd from left, image above) recruited 16 fellow students to volunteer at our Student Aid Banquet on March 6th.  AJ did this last year and it was a huge hit.  They all came on time, dressed "to the nines", had a lot of fun, and really connected with our donors. Donors commented afterwards how nice it was to be greeted and assisted by students.

Here's what AJ had to say about why he got involved:

“It is important for student volunteers to help with the Student Aid Banquet because it provides us with an opportunity to be servants to our school. Multnomah has blessed each and every one of us by providing a quality Biblical education that we will use for the rest of our lives. I believe that we are blessed to be a blessing and that we can help our school raise support for future students to be blessed by simply giving some of our time to show donors what Multnomah is really all about: raising up and sending out servant leaders in the image of Jesus. Growing up in the midst of a generation that struggles deeply with cynicism, and a negative attitude towards authority after being burned so many times, it is a privilege to support the leadership of our school and to demonstrate the difference that Multnomah has made in each of our lives."

Thank you for your kind words, AJ. And thank YOU to all of the students who chipped in - you are truly a huge reason why we do what we do!

Congratulations Roger!

3 comments Written on January 16th, 2009 by
Categories: General

Roger PorretWe posted a little bit ago about Roger Porret, our faithful volunteer, when we were writing about tradition. You tend to shape the culture a bit when you have been around as long as he has. We celebrated Roger's 30th anniversary on Thursday. Roger is a volunteer in the cafeteria at MU and has certainly made an impression.

Roger Porret has had an impact at Multnomah since I was a student. I remember a special chapel when Roger was deputized as the "official" sheriff of Multnomah. His position came with a badge and a bunny blaster. He was thrilled and so was the student body. I was and am thankful to be a part of a school that would take the time to honor a special volunteer like Roger!
-Pam Middleton, MU Alumni and employee

An article from the 1980 Ambassador Magazine -

Article about Roger

We at Multnomah are sure thankful for Roger's spirit and his service. He sets a mighty good example. Here is to thirty years that Roger helped make great. Congratulations!