Friday, April 12, 2013

Mission Possible: Student Edition

Before serving with Mission: Possible I had never heard of Jonestown Mississippi, but while spending my Spring Break there, it quickly became my home away from home. Alongside 12 other students and a GU staff advisor, I repaired roofs on houses, fixed a porch and did a much needed re-roofing at a local service station.  Throughout the week we stayed in a nearby church, ate simply, and lived, in solidarity with our Jonestown neighbors in order to immerse ourselves into a culture so different from our own.
 My initial impression of Jonestown made me uncomfortable: Jonestown is amongst the poorest towns in America, and in this community I was the minority.  However, my uneasiness was forgotten as we began to meet the wonderful people who lived in this tight-knit community.  Aside from the Gonzaga community, I have never felt so welcomed and accepted by a group of people.  The Burnetts, the family who owned the service station where we worked, showed us an incredible amount of kindness. 
I spent one early morning sitting in the service station (what we called the local Starbucks) enjoying coffee with Lavorn Burnett, chatting with locals as they came in the store.  Lavorn shared with us the dreams she had for her town and how she saw potential everywhere.  She told us that our work on the service station roof was a huge step for Jonestown as it is a main hub of activity among the locals.  Knowing that our service was truly making a difference to the entire community was the most rewarding part of the entire week. 
Serving in Jonestown was a humbling experience as it showed me that there are many forms of service and each makes a difference, even a small act of kindness toward a neighbor.  A few times while we were working on the service station, a couple of us would take shifts babysitting Marissa, the Burnett’s granddaughter, or watching the 11 day old puppies that the Burnett’s had just saved from the streets.  Marissa constantly wanted to play and chat about our lives and Lavorn would never fail to tell us how appreciative she was of our service there.  Mr. Burnett took time out of his day to make us delicious fried chicken.  Everyone we met throughout the week showed us an amazing amount of hospitality and respect and that is how I could tell their relationships with others were of the upmost importance.  This is definitely something that I will take back with me to Gonzaga. 
Although my time in Jonestown has ended I want to return again to this strong and faithful community.  Their reliance on God for support and their inner strength has encouraged me to strengthen my faith.  Just yesterday I received a message our construction group leader, he had been in contact with Lavorn about the roof and she said, “ ‘Just wanted to call and let you know it's pouring rain here......and I am dry.  I am cooking on my stove.....I can use my bathroom......and I am dry."  Needless to say my day was made.  The people of Jonestown are an inspiration to our group and taught us what it means to love our community, support each other and grow in faith.

Chelsea Hunt, junior

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mission Possible: have fun and get things done!

by: Vanessa Ingram 

Throughout the United States there are numerous cities and small towns that are plagued by poverty and are in need of help. Unfortunately, few students are truly aware of this and the positive impact they could have if they were to volunteer their time. The Mission Possible program through CCASL is a great way for students to find out the impact they can have on people in need, while forming close friendships with their fellow students as they complete the journey together.

For more than 14 years, CCASL has offered a program called Mission: Possible to Gonzaga students. In this week long program that occurs during spring break,  groups of 10-20 students travel to sites around the country and serve local communities by volunteering their time and effort to help people in need.  Each site is coordinated by a student leader with the support of at least one University Advisor who is either a staff or faculty member. In addition to volunteering and working for the trip, students form close friendships with each other and have a lot of fun traveling and learning together.

Here are the Mission Possible Sites for 2013:

·      Boise, Idaho
·      Browning, Montana
·      Denver, Colorado
·      Jonestown, Mississippi
·      Knoxville, Tennessee
·      Neah Bay, Washington
·      Portland, Oregon
·      San Francisco Bay Area, California
·      St. Louis, Missouri
·      Tacoma, Washington

I had the privilege of coming to the end of the year student meeting for Mission Possible participants. For the duration of the meeting, students shared laughs and inside jokes reminiscent of memories from a childhood summer camp. Along with the laughs, these students also shared heartfelt moments as they realized the impact they had on the people that they helped. It became clear that these dedicated students had the time of their lives while volunteering their time to help those in need.

Student interested in this program should come by the CCASL house in the beginning of the school year for more information or watch the morning mail for the opening date of registration in order to sign-up. Remember, there are a limited number of students allowed per site. Last fall, spots filled in the first 15 minutes, and even overflowed onto a wait list. So mark your calendar and plan to sign up early! 

Stay tuned for more posts and personal stories of Mission Possible participants. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Post-Grad Service Fair

By: Vanessa Ingram             

                     Graduating can be a confusing time as many students find it hard to figure out what to do next after spending so many years as a student. The task of finding a job has slowly become even more daunting as many people with bachelor’s degrees are looking for jobs right out of college.

                      If you are looking to stand out from the crowd or just want to make a difference, then volunteering at a nonprofit organization might be the right choice for you.

          Attention Gonzaga Juniors and Seniors! Are you interested in volunteer work after graduation?! Then look no further because Gonzaga University is holding a Service Panel for post graduate students.

          Organizations such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, JVC, and ACE will be there to answer your questions and give information about what each program offers.

                      At this panel, students can come learn information about various opportunities from each organization, ask questions, and possibly sign-up!!

                      The Post Grad Service-panel will be held on February 26th 2013. This event will be located in College Hall 101, 12:00-1:00pm. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

April's Angel's

by: Vanessa Ingram
                               April’s Angels: Small Time, Big Change
Many non-profit organizations in the Spokane community are dedicated to improving the dilapidated homes that are in need of immediate repair. Unfortunately, help often takes a long time to arrive and supplies are often limited and many cannot afford to make the repairs on their own. In response to this problem and in the spirit of the Jesuit Mission, CCASL created a program called April’s Angels.
Originally founded to assist local parish schools in the Spokane Community, today April’s Angels is a collaborative venture with Rebuilding Together, a nationally recognized non-profit dedicated to “providing critical repairs…and upgrades to low-income homes and community centers at no cost to service recipients.” In this new venture, April’s Angels has been fortunate to work with a local community center, houses for the developmentally disabled, and a retirement community within walking distance of campus. For the 2013 school year the program is looking to get back to its roots, with an announcement in the coming weeks about our service site. 
As a one-day service blitz, this program is great for students who would like to make a big impact on the Spokane community in a small amount of time. No long term commitments are required, just simply submit an application to CCASL and mark your calendar for April 13th, 2013. Applications for student volunteers will go out on Thursday, March 21st, and will be due back to CCASL on Thursday, March 28th.  Students are expected to attend at least one pre-service orientation meeting and will commit six hours of service on the project date. Additionally, there is a $5 charge that covers transportation, project supplies, lunch, and a t-shirt for the event. Participation is open to anyone, including alumni. This makes April’s Angels a great networking opportunity for students who wish to build relationships and contacts with Gonzaga alumni.
Though the experience may be short, this program has a long-lasting impact on both the community and students who volunteer. “As an undergrad I went for three years straight and had a blast every time.” said Jeb Berg, CCASL’s Coordinator of Student Engagement and 2008 Gonzaga graduate, when asked about what students should expect from the program. If you would like any more information on this program, please contact , or contact Jeb Berg at
Important: CCASL has recently updated their site. As a result, some pages may display an old application for April’s Angels but please be aware that this is not the application for the 2013 April’s Angels event. All current and updated information will be located on this page on the CCASL website:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

ZESST: A program that changes lives

By: Vanessa Ingram

As we age with each passing year, it becomes more apparent how much we rely on friends and family. When we finally begin to reach the close of our life spans, friends and family begin to slowly pass and we find ourselves again looking for new social contact. And because social interactions are one of the crucial needs of any human being, CCASL has created the program ZESST.  
ZESST (Zags Encouraging Student & Senior Togetherness) is a community outreach program run by CCASL that is focused on forging relationships between Gonzaga students and the residents of Maplewood Gardens Senior Center, an assisted living home for the elderly located near the Gonzaga campus.
Current and past participants have enjoyed the memories and friendships that they have experienced through ZESST and many have so much fun that they volunteer again the next year.
“Many students are focused on the now because of their youth. This program allows them to help senior citizens appreciate the time they have left in life and it’s super fun to help them enjoy their lives.” said Korryn Koussa, a former participant in the ZESST program.
The goal of the program is to improve quality of life for residents and raise awareness among students through fun and engaging activities and events. During these activities, students will engage with the senior citizens while having fun and building friendships that will be remembered forever.
ZESST will organize and execute social activities for the Maplewood residents on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 6:15-8:00 pm, meeting at CCASL at 6PM and heading to Maplewood by 6:15pm.
This program can be used for a service-learning requirement as well as an opportunity for Zags to get involved with the Spokane community. Applications for participation are on a rolling basis and one need only attend a ZESST meeting and provide their contact information to participate. For more information contact Jeb Berg at or 509-313-6937