The Mane

Outreach Week now to Engage students in the community

Justin Lay, staff writer

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The Master’s College to The Master’s University.  Lower Caf to The Trough.  SLS to Student Care.  These are just a few of the latest name changes happening this year at Master’s. One of the most recent name changes is Outreach Week’s transition to Engage. This is not just another arbitrary name change, however. The old Outreach Week has undergone significant developments.

Lisa LaGeorge, head of the Outreach department, is one of the key leaders in this shift from Outreach Week to Engage.  While working primarily with GO Trips at the end of the year, LaGeorge became involved with this transition.

“I think the primary difference is how we’re doing the Newhall Discovery Day; we haven’t done Newhall Discovery Day before. That’s the purpose behind it, to help students discover what’s down there,” said LaGeorge.

The former Outreach Week sent students out to different churches across California, to minister for three to four days. While the students are still going to their churches, some changes have been made to the Outreach Week schedule.

“We’ve been shaping Outreach Week over the past couple of years,” LaGeorge said. “We switched it so that it would start on Thursday, but there wasn’t a lot that happened Thursday afternoon.”

Rather than start the week with students sitting around, the faculty decided to implement the new “Newhall Discovery Day.”

“We were finding that our Outreach Week was centered on strictly our local church involvement; we were wanting to also have expression of our civic advancement,” said Joe Keller, Vice President of Student Life.

Newhall Day is a new addition to Outreach Week that highlights this new focus on the local community. Before going out to their respective churches, students will spend the day learning about and exploring the Newhall community.

Isaias Munez, the new director for Engage, recognizes some problems in the Master’s culture that the old Outreach Week failed to address.

“TMU is here in Placerita Canyon and there are some students that go through college and this is all they know. It’s going to be a shell shock when you go out and you have to get a job somewhere else and you have no idea what that community is like, what that context is like,” Munez said.  The purpose of the new Engage is to address this problem Master’s students are facing. “This gives you that opportunity to step out of this zone, out of this bubble, and really immerse yourself in another context,” Munez continued.

The students will be split up into three different groups that will rotate between three stations during the day: the Newhall Community Center, the Pregnancy Crisis Center, and a downtown Newhall scavenger hunt.

“Some students will start at the Community Center, and they’ll get a tour of the Community Center, find out what classes are being offered there, and how they might step in and help tutor,” explained LaGeorge.

The Community Center works with kids, offering classes, tutoring and games as an after-school program. They hold winter and summer camps and other various events throughout the year.

“College students can volunteer to assist teachers to lead classes, tune strings, and even hold education workshops for the community,” said Julie Calderon, Community Services Supervisor. She helps organize many of the Community Center’s events and is the primary Master’s contact for Engage.

“The Pregnancy Center is going to do a presentation for students on ways students can get involved with a ministry like the Pregnancy Center, and telling them about their own outreach into the community,” LaGeorge continued.

Similar to the Community Center, the Pregnancy Center portion of the day consists of helping students meet people and communities outside of Master’s circles who are benefitting the community.

“The third station will be a Newhall exploration. We’re giving students a list of tasks to accomplish and some elements of the community to discover,” said LaGeorge. This scavenger hunt includes going into local shops and learning their owners’ names and visiting the local missionary-in-resident’s home.

Once the scavenger hunt is over, the students will split into their individual groups and drive to their churches to settle in for the night.

This day will be a new experience for the school and students alike. The returning students as well as the new students will get an opportunity to reach out into the local community for the first time.

“I think the opportunity to build friendships and relationships with people in the community is really important, because too often we look for outreach opportunities outside of our local area,” said Carissa Arend, a current student leader for Engage, who also led a team for Outreach Week last year. “It’s important to recognize there are lost souls that have yet to be reached with the gospel, and it’s a good opportunity to strengthen our testimony and witness in the community,” she continued.

The changes to Outreach Week are designed to help students break through the “bubble” that living at Master’s or any small school can sometimes create. However, the primary focus of the old Outreach Week in serving churches has not changed.

“We believe the primary place to advance the gospel is within the context of the local church. What we’re adding with Engage is continuing to improve on our local outreach as well,” said Keller.

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Outreach Week now to Engage students in the community