ASI Northwest: Mentorship, Ministry, Mission

Nearly 200 ASI Northwest (ASI NW) members and guests found abundant welcome on the Walla Walla University (WWU) campus April 18–20, 2019, for the organization’s annual convention, "Love Serves." The welcome was so tangible, in fact, the ASI NW board has determined to return to the campus for the annual gathering in 2020.

Featuring keynote speaker Karl Haffner, the weekend meetings not only provided a wealth of inspiration but also valuable conversations around the ASI mission and a robust offering of more than $56,000 to assist four areas: Africa Orphan Care, Impact Hope, Love Heals Free Clinic and the ASI NW development fund.

The newly elected ASI NW board members are:

  • President: Gary Morgan
  • Executive vice president: Mindy Thygeson
  • Vice president for membership: Paul Opp
  • Vice president for finance: Terry Mace
  • Vice president for evangelism: Anita Jepson
  • Vice president for communication: Open
  • Immediate past president: Fred Cornforth
  • Lay representatives: Conna Bond (Montana), Rick Luce (Washington), Randy Meyer (Oregon), Beverly Nelson (Upper Columbia), Irwin Rogers (Idaho)

The collaboration between the university and ASI NW has been growing in recent years due to an essential core of shared mission. Engagement from WWU was evident throughout the meetings this year, from visible presence and participation of John McVay, WWU president, and others, to the welcoming space and cafeteria service provided. Under the leadership of Fred Cornforth, outgoing ASI NW president, the organization has recognized it must reverse the trend of an aging membership. It has provided scholarship funds for select WWU students and increased mentorship opportunities. This year, it took another significant step forward in bridging the traditional age gap — awarding prizes for innovative student projects.

On the final evening of this year’s convention, ASI NW featured these innovative projects from the CoLab experience on campus — an obvious connection to the core theme of collaboration. During the past year, Cornforth had worked with the WWU School of Business dean, Patience Taruwinga, to encourage students to develop project ideas and business plans. From the projects submitted during this CoLab experience, the school of business selected five that would be pitched for potential awards. Several highly successful entrepreneurs were present as judges for the evening event. At the end of the evening’s Shark Tank-like process, the three top prizes went to:

  • First place, $5,000: BluCollar, an online app to connect community needs with the small business job market. Team members: Sean Farris, Levi LeMert, Lucas Marcondes, Kaden Sukachevin.
  • Second place, $3,000: Reshred, an innovative process to recycle plastic for use as school supplies. Team members: Brandon Graham, Joshua Bibb, Phai Bui, Ross Nelson, Maxwell Boonstra.
  • Third place, $2,000: Drone Project, providing drone video and photography with Part 107 pilot certification. Team members: Shane Butler, Thomas Graham.

How these mentor/student efforts pan out remains to be seen. But they reflect the desire of ASI NW leaders to make intentional efforts to strengthen business and student connections. This is a noticeable shift back toward the center of the ASI mission — that of sharing Christ in the marketplace through business-savvy, missionary-minded Adventists. This not only has the potential to sharpen the entrepreneurial impact of the organization but also allow mission to supersede theological divides.

As in recent years, this ASI NW gathering was kicked off with a free community clinic, held April 18 and 19 at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds. Coordinated by Liz Thomsen, Love Heals corporate clinic director, in conjunction with WWU and the community, the Love Heals clinic provided medical, dental, vision and other services to more than 700 community residents. Many who received initial help there will have further connections in the months ahead with other area services, including contact with local Adventist Community Services at SonBridge Community Center.

“It was very exciting to see how much love was shared here,” says Thomsen. “And we want to make sure that the patients we saw here are taken care of on their health care journey. We want them to be able to find a home for ongoing health needs so they have hope going forward.”

The volume of organization needed for a free clinic of this magnitude is amazing. According to Thomsen, each such event takes upward of eight months of planning or more. Crowd control, incoming patient triage, organizing dozens/hundreds of volunteers of varying experience, providing and sterilizing dental instruments, arranging treatment stations, acquiring liability insurance — all this would be overwhelming, if not supervised by experienced and competent leadership. The Love Heals clinic staff has that in spades. Take the opportunity to volunteer at one of these events sometime, and you’ll understand anew the value of collaboration on a common mission.

If you feel the call to engage in innovative outreach for Christ, in the workplace or beyond, consider becoming part of ASI NW. Learn more at asinorthwest.org.