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Beacons Take Time to Embrace the City

October 11, 2013
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Nick Askew, Cascade Collegiate Conference Sports Information Director

EUGENE, Ore.  – Embrace the City Day, an annual day of service at Northwest Christian University, took place on October 2 with over 240 volunteers from the NCU community participating. Every NCU athletic team participated in the event, usually working as a team at a particular service site.

On this particular day, all NCU classes are cancelled in the afternoon, giving every student, faculty, and staff member the opportunity to participate. This year NCU served at 12 different sites including the Boys and Girls Club, Camp Harlow, Catholic Community Services, Churchill Garden, First Baptist Church, Free People Eugene, Grassroots Garden, Habitat for Humanity, Mt. Pisgah, Springfield Youth Farms, St. Vincent De Paul, and the Eugene Family YMCA.

NCU Senior Ally Mittleider, the Coordinator of Local Outreach in the Campus Ministries office and a member of the Beacon Softball team, said, "ETC Day is such an important event to this university and myself. With the entire campus closed, it gives the students/staff/and faculty a chance to come together and serve in the community for a few hours. It is important to represent Wisdom, Faith and Service well as an institution, and this event gives us a chance to pursue service.

Each site is coordinated by a faculty or staff member at NCU, along with a student leader. Seven of the 12 sites had current Student-Athletes serving as a leader.

At the Boys and Girls club, volunteers helped cleaning play equipment both indoors and out and also got to work directly with kids, helping with homework. Freshman women's basketball player Carly Bigby helped facilitate the project, alongside staff member Brittney Yip.

At Camp Harlow, under the guidance of women's basketball player Makenzie Endresen and faculty member Dave Quirk, the NCU students and staff helped to clean cabins, clean up yard debris from the recent storms, and help clean the gymnasium and other facilities from top to bottom. One of the Camp Harlow staff members commented, "I was so blessed by the NCU students. They worked so hard and with such a cheerful heart. If they weren't here helping us out with our major off-season cleaning, then I would have been doing all of this on my own. They did in just a few hours what would take me weeks to complete."

Another group worked with Catholic Community Services, helping to organize and sort donations. Freshman men's basketball player Calvin Anderson helped organize the effort along with faculty member Nani Skaggs. St. Vincent De Paul and Habitat for Humanity also put a group of students to work indoors, helping with organization and administrative work including stuffing envelopes for a major mail campaign. Students Becky Espinoza and Veronica Schneider helped lead these groups, along with faculty member Mick Bollenbaugh.

A number of groups got to make good use of their green thumbs, harvesting a variety of fruits and vegetables. Sophomore softball player Sarah Lawhorn led a group at Churchill Garden, senior volleyball player Janel Fetters joined staff member Sarah Halstead in leading the team at Grassroots Garden, and junior men's basketball player Tyler Fox coordinated the Springfield Youth Farms efforts.

Additionally, another group of students traveled up to Mt. Pisgah for dirty work, renovating one of the hiking trails. Senior Lars Coburn helped to lead this group, along with faculty member Doyle Srader.

Other general cleaning work was done with First Baptist Church of Eugene and The Eugene Family YMCA. Corey Garrett helped lead the group at First B, while sophomore men's basketball player Remi White and Assistant Athletic Director Sarah Freeman organized the efforts at The Y. The volunteers for the Y also got the opportunity to work directly with the students, reading stories, playing games, helping with homework and even participating in a kids Zumba workout class.

The last group of student and staff volunteers, led by Student Body President Eric Fromm and staff member Angela Doty, made and distributed over 50 lunches to the homeless, working with Free People Eugene.

The variety of opportunities is one of the things that make NCU's Embrace The City program so meaningful. "New students are given a chance to find an organization to plug into while they are going to school at NCU," said Mittleider. "Personally, I love being able to provide the communication between organizations and our students on campus and to see them continue to work with the same organizations for years to come."

NCU coordinates two signature service events during the school year. After ETC Day in the fall, another event will take place during the spring semester. The location of the former "Touch Project" event under the Washington-Jefferson Bridge is no longer available, giving the leadership team a great opportunity for a new event this year.