As we close the final year of the five-year Lilly Endowment grant through which St. Olaf’s Lives of Worth and Service program was developed, we extend our gratitude to the Lilly Endowment for enriching the lives of the many, many people who were profoundly touched through experiences of service and reflection.
People like Sarah Meyer '08, who wrote, “The Lilly Grant has made it financially possible for me to serve as a camp counselor. . . . During my first summer at camp—to my surprise—I ended up spending the entirety of the time doing day camps at a residence facility for people with disabilities. It was here that I first experienced the longed for match of my passions and my skills—St. Olaf likes to call this vocation.
People like Mark Forsberg ’08, who wrote this after a Lilly-sponsored international service-learning trip to Honduras: “The philosophy behind the Lilly program enabled me to step out of the day-to-day monotony and bring me to a place that needs recognition. This concept of ‘communion with that which is bigger than [myself]’ is the great drive toward solidarity and finding the simple, inherent values that make all human beings tick. Solidarity in itself may be a form of service to others, while across borders, visitors like us have the opportunity to bridge the cultural divides that separate us from Hondurans and embrace those differences to bring something positive back to the U.S."
People like Abby Matthews ’08, who served in a Twin Cities–area congregation as a summer vocational intern and remarked: “Pastor Kelly's observation illuminated the conclusion which I'd been coming to all summer but hadn't recognized yet: religious communities, at their best, can teach us that, in balancing between productivity and relationships, relationships need to take priority. In this sense, a genuine community is one that focuses on building relationships. Building relationships necessarily involves taking time, listening patiently, practicing hospitality, welcoming openly, and withholding judgment.”
People like Jared Brandell ’08, who wrote: “Upon returning home [from Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp where he worked as a camp counselor with a Lilly program stipend], friends and family members asked me how my summer was. My response was the same each time. Excitedly, I told them that camp had easily been the best summer of my life. Undoubtedly a valuable and life-changing summer, my FLBC experiences have certainly affected my sense of vocation.”
People like Vera Belazelkoska '09 who wrote this after a Lilly-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., to study poverty and homelessness: "We can read statistics and percentages, but putting a face on a woman who is homeless and hearing her story makes this problem real. It is exactly this experience that policymakers need to hear about to know what they are fighting for, and what kind of impact their decisions will have on people."
These comments are representative of a larger body of evidence pointing to the success of the Lives of Worth and Service program in reaching its goal to “make and institutionalize change in such a way that the entire St. Olaf community is engaged in coming to a new understanding of the meaning of ‘vocation.’”
As 2007–08 Lilly Vocational Scholar James Farrell said about conversations among Lilly Teaching Fellows, “We had extended our conversations a couple of times to think about how the concept of vocation plays out at St. Olaf College. We suggested that perhaps it’s less focused, but more pervasive than at other institutions. Less biblical, but more religious. Less vocal, and more practical, in the sense that it’s practiced widely even by people who are uncomfortable with the concept of vocation. At this point, we aren’t sure about this, but we are sure that we want to talk about it more.”
Look for this year’s report to the Lilly Endowment in August to learn about the many ways that the Lives of Worth and Service program has affected the life of the College and its constituents from course development to service trips at home and abroad, to retreats and reflection activities.
Summer 2008 Lives of Worth and Service Programs
Bible Camp Stipends
Congratulations to this years recipients:
Summer Vocational Interns
ICSA and St. Olaf College have been in partnership since the mid-1980s. ICSA is a Christian church organization with a mission to serve the Christian community and the marginalized in South India. Sara Fruehling has been involved with the program since 1991.
Leaders for Social Change
Key components of the program:
Nine students, selected to serve in this summer’s LSC program, will be matched with the following organizations:
Ryan Doyle '09
The Lilly Program Grant at St. Olaf College