Left to right: BrittaLisa Gess, Kim Schwannecke, and Alex Larkin used their 375 grant to support the Gentle Hearts Christian Home, an orphange in Nepal.
375 Reasons to Give
Would you sign up for a class called “I Really Want to Be Mother Teresa But Life Gets in the Way”?
Seattle Pacific University freshmen
Alex Larkin and Kim Schwannecke did, and they ended up helping people half a world away.
Members of the class, a freshman-level University Seminar
taught by Assistant Professor of Education Debby Espinor, studied Mother Teresa’s “Simple Path” of service. Then they put those lessons to work, aided by a new program at SPU called the 37five Project
The 37five Project inspires students to participate in worship, discipleship, and service that change lives — including their own. The more they participate, the more opportunities they have to make donations to nonprofit agencies of their choice.
“I don’t know of anything like the 37five Project at another university, secular or Christian”
—Matthew Koenig, Associate Director of University Ministries
In 2007–08, Seattle Pacific is empowering students to invest $37,500 — 100 grants of $375 — in local and international organizations that do God’s work in the world.
“I don’t know of anything like the 37five Project at another university, secular or Christian,” says Associate Director of University Ministries Matthew Koenig, who is helping students make their gifts.
Larkin and Schwannecke joined a team
of fellow class members, mentored by junior BrittaLisa Gess, who decided to
support the Gentle Hearts Christian Home in Nepal. Gentle Hearts, an orphanage where Gess once volunteered, was founded by a Nepalese couple who came from the Brahmin caste — the highest caste in Hindu society. “They could have lived an easy, comfortable life,” Larkin explains. “But when they decided to become Christians, they were considered to be of the Chandalas caste — less than human. With next to nothing, they started an orphanage, and have been relying daily on God to bring them through.”
The students learned about the
orphanage through photographs and videos, and began to show support through prayer and emails. They also applied for, and received, a 37five grant. That money helped pay for food, clothing, health care, schooling, housing payments, and more
at Gentle Hearts.
“The orphanage doesn’t have a lot of money,” says Schwannecke, “so it is difficult for the family to pay for all these things, including their basic needs.”
She is quick to recommend involvement in the 37five Project: “It’s a chance to get together with others, listen to what God is telling you, and give a part of yourselves to someone who needs your help.”
Larkin says the experience has inspired him to re-imagine his future, and to consider a career in teaching economically disadvantaged students. That seems to be a frequent story from participants in the 37five Project: Their efforts to bless others have blessed them as well.
Online Exclusive: Reading, Writing, and Role Models
“Do I look Chinese?” young Sam asked his tutor, SPU junior Calin Crumbo. Sam wasn’t joking. His classmates have made jokes about his appearance. But Crumbo reassured him. “No, no, you look Cambodian. Just like you should.”
Crumbo, a senator on SPU’s Campus Ministry Council, volunteers as a tutor with Union Gospel Mission
. Urban Involvement counselor Lindsey Beach, a junior, encouraged Crumbo to seize this opportunity for service — and he’s finding that his influence extends much further than helping Sam with math and reading. He’s playing an important part in this Cambodian boy’s life, encouraging him toward wisdom and confidence.
Crumbo’s been surprised by the fun he’s having. “My favorite part of tutoring Sam is the communication between us. He playfully resists reading or doing his homework, but ends up reading more pages than we agreed to.”
Urban Involvement has developed a strong connection with the Union Gospel Mission, and the Campus Ministry Council showed support for Crumbo’s efforts with a 37Five Project grant. It’s a worthy investment, as Crumbo sees promise in the social impact of tutoring. “In some communities,” he observes, “a role model provides an opportunity for people to rise out of their social class.”
Online Exclusive: Memorable Meals with Unexpected Friends
For a few years, SPU student Lauren Overholt, has been working with other students to support Bethany Presbyterian Church
, where volunteers prepare community dinners for about 200 needy people every Wednesday night. The first time they ventured up Queen Anne Hill to the church, they had a good idea of how they would serve. But they were in for a surprise.
“We pictured ourselves assuming the sort of the standard volunteering posture of dispensing food with a smile,” says Lauren. “But the coordinators of the dinner assured us that they already had too many people willing to pass out food, so why didn't we just sit down and eat with people?”
This began what Lauren calls “a remarkable transformation” in her life. She grew out of an “us/them” attitude, and found new friends among the people she sought to serve.
Now a senior, Overholt and her friends, juniors Olivia Pryor and Kenzie Brister, and senior Kerri Kline, have enhanced their ministry with support from the 37Five project. They would love to see others get involved. “It is important to invest somewhere,” says Overholt, “to get to know the people, to be humble, to participate in breaking down barriers. Truly loving people is not easy or what you expect. It is not always safe or convenient, but we encourage others to step outside their comfort zones and be willing nonetheless.”