Compassion became an act of practical service recently when students at Corban University raised hundreds of dollars to pay rent for a single mother.
It all started at Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility, where sophomore Micah Ropp volunteers weekly.
The young men at Hillcrest were seeking out ways to serve somebody.
“Ideas flew,” Ropp said. “It just sort of avalanched.”
Ropp thought there might be someone in need at his church, SonRise. At church next week, he met a single mother at church who needed assistance.
The only issue was that it would take Hillcrest some time to fundraise. Ropp knew the need was immediate to help this young woman and immediately went to his Resident Assistant (RA) Nathan Swanson, a senior.
“Micah was really the heart behind this,” Swanson said. “He just brought [the idea] to me and said, ‘Here’s what’s going on, how can we help?’ As his RA, I love doing stuff like that – hearing what [my residents] love and helping support them. It was a cool opportunity to be a support in his life, talking with him through the process.”
Ropp had no hesitation about helping the woman and started fundraising.
“I chose to help because I saw a need,” Ropp said. “I saw somebody who needed help, and I have the ability, the resources and the influence to help. I didn’t think twice about it.”
Swanson proceeded to present the idea to the rest of the RA team, which then relayed the plan to the residents in the other halls.
“We all decided that we could just tell our halls during our small groups and Bible studies during that week, and we could see how much money we can get – and it ended up being a lot,” Swanson said.
During high school, Carley Davis, junior and RA, recognized a special place in her heart for teen moms.
“Being an advocate for this cause is something that I’ve been passionate about,” she said. “So when Micah and Nathan informed our team about the situation, I knew it was something I couldn’t help but want to be a part of.”
Davis’s hall of 20 students spent a night together writing the single mother encouraging cards and praying for her.
Ropp also individually approached Bethany Janzen, junior and president of the Students for Life club. Janzen has a passion to help teen moms who have chosen life for their children. The club also donated to the cause.
The collaboration raised $580 to help the single mom. The Hillcrest youth later raised an additional $200 with a BBQ fundraiser.
The money paid more than three months of this single mom’s living expenses at Lucille’s Home, a Salem ministry that provides a safe living space for single moms and their children. The house is “geared toward preparing the resident and her family for independent, healthy living.”
Sharon Jones and her husband JJ founded the ministry.
“Many years ago, unbeknownst to me, a couple opened up an extra room in their home so that a woman, named Lucille, could have a safe, stable place to live during a very volatile time in her life,” Jones said. “I imagine it was a place where she could think and plan and make decisions for her future and for mine. It is an opportunity to do unto others as these strangers did for my mom.”
Born out of a vision that Jones had for over 30 years, the home was created from her overwhelming desire to thank those people who helped her mom when she was pregnant.
“The story is really complex,” Jones said. She nows sees the full circle of how her dream slowly became a reality.
Jones and her husband have three children. Throughout the years of raising them, the dream to have a home didn’t die as “God slowly built the vision.”
“The timing was just never right,” she said. Eventually, circumstances arose where the Jones’ were provided with the funds to purchase a mobile home. And the ministry was born.
Today, they have a home that four families live in and another home that their first resident lives in with her family as a transition home from the community housing to her own place.
The first resident came last December. Since then, Lucille’s home has housed eight families.
Each family comes with “different suitcases,” Jones said, and the ministry strives to understand the different needs of each.
Jones refers to their residents as their “pioneers,” because they’re helping the Joneses understand “what the ministry needs to do in order to help people live independently with healthy life skills,” she said.
Jones later met Ropp when he offered her a check. She was so impressed by the students’ fundraising efforts to help one of her residents.
“I got excited and thought, ‘Wow, God – You are amazing the way You work through people,’” she said. “I really want God to be glorified in this and what He has done through the students at Corban. Every day it’s more evident that it’s God doing this and not us.”