Hope International University was named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll during the 2014-2015 academic year; this is the institution’s fourth year as a member of the prestigious Honor Roll. The award recognizes institutions of higher education, throughout the nation, that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of best practices in campus-community partnerships. It is the highest federal recognition of colleges and universities for commitment to service learning and civic engagement.
“This is simply our mission,” said Bryan Sands, Director of Campus Ministries, “so we are both humbled and honored to receive this recognition.”
Following is a sampling of the University’s 2014-2015 service projects, not only in the local community, but also across the Mexican border, in partnership with Amor Ministries. Faculty and staff joined 376 students (more than 50% of the traditional undergraduate student population) in contributing nearly 5,000 hours of service.
New students were invited to help beautify Pacific Drive Elementary School last fall, as part of their orientation to campus and community life. About 100 students participated in the clean-up and beautification project.
The group also served on “Give Hope” Day at Pathways of Hope, a local agency that serves people in need, particularly those who face homelessness. Students worked on the renovation of the organization’s client intake center and offices.
Service to elementary schools continued throughout the year, as about 25 students participated in the Hope Mates program at Pacific Drive. Hope Mates pairs HIU students and elementary school students with learning or behavioral challenges. Our students visited the campus each Friday to play games with and mentor their “Hope Mates,” as well as help with school assignments. At Raymond Elementary School, six HIU students served in a Hope Mates program that met on Thursdays.
HIU student, Ariel Campos (‘17), who served at Pacific Drive, said, “I was especially excited when my ‘Hope Mate’ and her family became members at my church (Eastside Christian Church). She is the same age as my little brother, so every time I pick him up at church, I get to see her.”
Last fall, about 80 HIU students built a home for a family in Mexico. The project took place over the course of four one-day trips from the HIU campus to the building site in the Altiplano neighborhood of Tijuana. Home building in the region is an annual project for HIU students, in partnership with Amor Ministries. Amor and local pastors are responsible for selecting the families who receive new homes and also maintain relationships with families after the home-building projects are completed.
Gilberto Valdez is a factory worker. He and his wife, Hilda Alicia, are the parents of Fernando, 12, and Andrea, 5. The family is purchasing the property on which the house was built, and previously lived in a one-room structure with a faulty roof and floor, no drinkable water, no plumbing, and no electricity.
“Most of the people we work with in the region are earning less than $5 per day,” said Sands. “The need is so incredible that we plan to double our home-building efforts in the fall of 2015, with 160 students building two houses.”
Amor Ministries was founded in 1980 by HIU alumna Gayla Congdon (’77, ‘89) and her husband, Scott, by recruiting people to serve in Mexico on short-term mission trips.
HIU joined students from 15 countries in a first-of-its-kind missions conference called the Global Gathering hosted by Amor Ministries. The inaugural event, at which HIU’s students served as group leaders, was held on the Yucatan Peninsula and was convened to educate students from around the world about issues such as poverty and human trafficking. Small groups were encouraged to start a global conversation and explore ways that students could return to their communities better prepared to make a difference.
During Spring Break, several HIU students traded their opportunity for relaxation and play for an opportunity to serve. This year, HIU’s Spring Break was earlier than most, so our group served a foundational role, preparing for the influx of coming volunteers. Students built restrooms and prepared the large campsite to host the thousands of volunteers who would soon convene to serve the people of Mexico.
“A week at beaches and amusement parks would have been a great time,” said Michael Mulryan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, “but instead the mission to serve is a clear motivation for these students, and we are so grateful for their representation of HIU, and most importantly, their commitment to demonstrate Christ’s love.”