Owen is the amazing Coordinator for Global and Urban Involvement
in the John Perkins Center here at SPU. He is the amazing stability and awesomely horrible puns that support all of the JPC programs you love. Without him, our service days, like the one this Saturday, would never happen. Here’s why Owen puts up with all of our craziness before a service day:
One of the most exciting parts of Latreia service days for me is watching students establish connections with community leaders. Service days are an opportunity to connect to great organizations and do great service work, but they also provide opportunities for students to meet people who have committed themselves to community service in really fun ways.
Sometimes these people serve as professional role models. At Operation Nightwatch our students have connected with an enthusiastic young PhD student whose paid work involves coordinating groups of volunteers who provide friendship and housekeeping help to formerly homeless senior citizens in the apartments Operation Nightwatch manages. In White Center they’ve learned from the stories of a retired Boeing engineer who has dedicated his retirement to the preservation and restoration of an urban lake that’s often neglected by King County government. At the Cheasty Greenspace our students learn from a SPU grad and her husband who are raising their three young children next to an urban forest they’ve helped develop, working with their neighbors to transform what was once a dead-end street filled with drug houses and related sketchy behavior.
In all of these places our students get to meet someone in whom they might see themselves. As these role models live out their lives of service in Seattle, our volunteers are inspired to do so in their own ways. For me, that’s a great thing to watch.
At 8:30 AM on a rainy Saturday morning, four girls ate delicious pancakes and drank a lot of coffee to prepare for their work at B.F. Day Elementary School in Fremont, an official bilingual school known for its community outreach and partner work with the Fremont Arts Council. Plus, it’s the oldest school building in the Seattle School District and a treasure to Fremont, its vintage architecture making it a city monument. Unsure of what was to come, the girls prayed together that God would work through them to make a difference in the Seattle community. Knowing that the B.F. Day service day involved working outside with landscaping and building a playground, the four girls weren’t sure exactly how much help they would be.
On arrival to the playground, we met with a Siteworks (landscape engineering company) representative, a landscape engineer and parent of a child at B.F. Day, to learn about the plans for the playground and the purpose behind it. The hope was to use volunteers and grants to rebuild the almost all concrete current playground into one with woodchips and brand new play toys. However, in order to make way, massive amounts of shrubbery had to be moved! The girls spent the day cutting an amazing amount of trees, raking leaves, pulling entwined vines from fences, and throwing away poisonous plants. Whew! What a workout! They were joined by a Seattle Public Schools gardener with a massive amount of tools and huge truck, as well as the head of the B.F. Day PTA (Parent Teacher Association). The hours flew by as everyone chatted and also mediated while completing the yard work. At the end, no one could believe how much shrubbery the team had moved. The entire fence running along Fremont Ave was cleared so that people driving could actually tell there was a school there! The PTA member mentioned how important this was for the school since the shrubbery obscured drivers from recognizing the school, a dangerous situation when drivers didn’t know to look out for students.
The girls completed their day feeling tired but satisfied. They were asked back anytime to help out with the gardening or even help with events put on by the school. They returned to SPU with so many positive things to say about the school and with anticipation of driving down Fremont Ave and being able to the school… a feat made possible by them!
Rosehedge Multifaith Works is an amazing organization spread throughout the Seattle area and has a multiple facets. The housing unit we went to was for longer term illnesses, like HIV/AIDS, that not only provides a place to live with emotional support, but healthcare as well. This is so key because not only does it help those with HIV/AIDS deal, but it helps them live with that diagnosis.
I was excited to go to Rosehedge Multifaith Works… however I had no idea how excited I should have been. For our trip to Rosehedge/Multifaith Works Housing Program we worked on the outside environment by raking leaves, weeding, and mulching the rose garden island. Initially that may seem odd- to have all these volunteers and have them working outside rather than inside supporting the people living there. However, the “Broken Window Theory” comes into play. The “Broken Window Theory” suggests that our environment can both negatively and positively impact our actions within. Especially in a community where each day can be an effort, it’s comforting to be able to see the support from others all around you.
I had the opportunity to talk to a gentleman named “Mark” while raking. “Mark” had to walk with a cane and was sitting down in the designated smoking area outside. He was a boisterous and engaging man who was full of stories from the good ol’ days and advise. He told me about his days as a college student, his wife, his struggle with alcohol, and even his belief in God who loves us, and the idiocy of the fighting between denominations and religions over who is “right”. “Mark” gave me a real person to tie to the horrible disease of HIV/AIDS. He showed me that HIV/AIDS can happen to people I know. HIV/AIDS is no longer this faceless disease that happens to other people.
Check out Rosehedge Multifaith Works on facebook at
The 2012-2013 school year has officially begun! If you’re anything like me than the first day always overwhelms me with all the new possibilities and opportunities that surround the new year. However, Latreia is a breath of fresh air in all the chaos. Latreia is that once a quarter opportunity to worship through service and get chocolate chip pancakes too! Not only can we help you serve once a quarter, but if you are looking to get more involved around Seattle, Latreia can help too! We will sit down with you one on one and figure out what you passion is and what organization is the best match for you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!