May 2008

The Lilly Grant Program: Initiatives to Institutionalization

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
Recognizing that working as a Bible/Church camp counselor can be a powerful opportunity for personal growth, service to others, and discernment of one's career, St. Olaf's Lilly Program has awarded stipends to students working in these positions over the summer.  These stipends are designed to help students who might otherwise be deterred by financial constraints to work at such camps.  Furthermore, through reflection on the idea of vocation, stipend recipients will have the opportunity to add another level of personal growth to their camp experience and further enrich the St. Olaf campus community upon their return.

Congratulations to this years recipients:
Anna Coffey ’11
Chris Cremons ’09
Michael Crosson ’09
Lucas Dueffert ’10
Cameron Field ’10
Briana Griffin ’10
Emma Harness ’10
Sarah Jacobson ’10
Hannah Langholz ’10
Martina Link ’09
Nathan Mantey ’10
Jenna Moon ’10
Jacob Nelson ’10
Stephanie Olson ’11
Mary Ellen Olson ’11
Elizabeth Reynolds ’10
Bryan Runck ’09
Sarah Schmidt ’09
Kathryn Thompson ’10
Whitney Wallace ’09
Micaela Wegener ’09

Summer Vocational Interns
Congratulations to the following students who were selected to serve at metro-area churches over the summer. Along with the internship, students will work with a mentor from Luther Seminary, who will help them gain more from the experience through intentional reflection

Erin Anderson '09 - St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Hannah Griese '09 - Calvary Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Laura Glasebrook '09 - Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

David Hlebain '09 - Redeemer Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Tyler Zencka '09 - Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul

International Service-Learning
Sara Fruehling, Assistant Professor of Biology, will lead a group of five students to Chennai, India, to work with the InterChurch Service Agency at their invitation. Students will assist ICSA in upgrading their computer training program for disabled students and will work on health/human services projects coordinated through ICSA. One of these projects involves expanding a medicinal garden to enable the organization to market nontraditional herbal medicines.

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
New this year is the Leaders for Social Change (LSC) program, which gives students an opportunity to serve the community by working at a local nonprofit while living in an intentional community of engaged students. The rationale behind LSC is that as students put their ideals into action they will develop the leadership skills necessary to understand the complexities of social problems, formulate solutions and mobilize others for social change.

Key components of the program:

  • Work 35 hours per week at a Northfield-area nonprofit agency
  • Attend weekly educational seminars with community leaders and St Olaf faculty
  • Participate in weekly community meals and reflection nights
  • Participate in an orientation retreat June 8–10
  • Share responsibilities of life in community, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.
  • Act as positive ambassadors for St Olaf College to the surrounding community
  • Work to build personal relationships with each member by engaging in shared activities related to recreation and entertainment
  • Support one another in the learning process. Challenge one another by asking, “How can I make a difference?”

Nine students, selected to serve in this summer’s LSC program, will be matched with the following organizations:

Ryan Doyle '09
••• Center for Sustainable Living

Wade Hauser '09
••• Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Summer Ventures

Chad Goodroad '09
••• Valley Creek Community Farm

Maren Gelle '10
••• Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Summer Ventures

Monika Hartsel '09
••• Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Summer Ventures

Laura Guzman '10
••• HealthFinders Collaborative

Michelle Anklan '09
••• Centro Campesino

Andrew Nussbaum '10
••• Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Summer Ventures (tentative)

Katlin Greene '09
••• Upward Bound

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In This Issue

Summer Bible Camp Stipends

Summer Vocational Community Interns

International Service-Learning

Leaders for Social Change

Lilly Vocational Intern for 2008-09

Sustainability Grant

The Lilly Endowment continues to support St. Olaf College's rich culture of vocational discernment through a three-year Sustainability Grant (to commence September 1, 2008), which assists the College in institutionalizing vocational discernment during the transition from the original grant period.

Specific programs carried forward through the Sustainability Grant include:

• Sustaining Fellows Program
• Faculty Development Programs
• Vocational Intern
• Vocational Community Internships
• Pastoral Intern
• Vocational Retreats
• International Service-Learning

To read more about these programs and the Sustainability Grant, download the full grant proposal.

Lilly Vocational Intern — New for 2008–09!

Congratulations to Miriam Samuelson '08! In her one-year role as Lilly Vocational Intern, Miriam will work closely with the full array of vocational discernment programs under the Lilly sustainability grant for the Lives of Worth and Service program. The models for this position are the Americorps and Lutheran Volunteer Corps programs that engage students in a year of service as they explore their career options. 

Miriam will work under the direction of the Lilly Grant Program Director and the co-Directors of Vocational Mentoring. 

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The Lilly Program Grant at St. Olaf College