UCA Students Enrich Their Community

June 22, 2015 | Tamara Michalenko Terry

For more than 20 years, Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) has been providing HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) to the Spokane, Wash., area. Linnea Torkelsen, UCA alumni and development director, was the first HOPE coordinator. Her assignment was to develop opportunities for students to engage in the community.

This past spring, UCA students and staff participated in almost 35 projects — from Spokanimal, a nonprofit organization that helps place abandoned or abused animals in safe homes, to Love Bags, where “Bags of Love” are created for children who must enter the foster care system.

These projects provide a wonderful opportunity to work alongside teachers outside the classroom. During one interaction with a community member, students were asked why they continue at UCA when it means they have to be away from home. One student immediately responded that it was about “the relationships.” She explained that she is able to develop a deeper connection with teachers and staff because of the time they spend together. The community member was surprised and wondered if that bothered her parents. Another student replied that their parents appreciate the fact they have caring teachers and staff helping them succeed.       

In addition to the quarterly HOPE projects, Amanda Goad, discipleship/outreach director, provides opportunities for students to engage with the community throughout the school year. Shortly after her arrival in January, she and students went door to door in Spangle, Wash., asking for prayer requests and sharing GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) tracts. “The students were well-received, and the community members appreciated them coming,” says Goad.

Another time, the students provided special music and the children’s story for the Otis Orchards (Wash.) Church. After lunch, UCA students joined other church members to share invitation packets to the church with their neighbors. “Wow, that’s cool,” one resident remarked.

“The church loved having the students there,” Goad added. “They said, ‘Please have them come back.’”

For Mother’s Day, Goad and her volunteer students went from door to door in another community to give free flowers to moms. Many residents were shocked that the students were willing to take their time to share the flowers and even more surprised when they found out the flowers were free. Students met first-time moms and 90-something moms. “It was nice for the students to see the different types of mothers,” says Goad.

Just recently, students went to the Union Gospel Mission to help serve a hot meal. “You guys are the happiest and most uplifting group we’ve ever had serve,” said one resident. 

Goad will teach evangelism classes as an optional Bible class for juniors and seniors starting the 2015–2016 school year. This focused class will teach them to share the gospel in their day-to-day lives.

Located in Spangle, UCA, a day and boarding school, provides education that develops the spiritual, mental and physical needs of students while preparing them to continue a life of service to their church and community in whatever profession they choose.