Through a partnership with Southern Adventist University (SAU) the Greater Collegedale School System (GCSS) participates in two unique programs that promote an ethic of service to the elderly. Both programs are funded by an anonymous donor who provides 80% of the grant and requires 20% to be locally raised in the community.
Managed by the SAU School of Social Work, under the direction of Rene’ Drumm, Dean, the ASSIST – (Academy Student Service Initiative Stipend for Tuition) program employs academy students to minister to older adults in their homes or assisted living facilities. Since the beginning in 2007, over 135 Collegedale Academy (CA) students’ lives have been changed through cultivating a positive relationship with an elder. Chris Massengill, chaplain and program administrator, says, “bridging the gap between generations, improving the quality of life for the elderly and cultivating the qualities of Christ love and character is what we want to promote with our students.”
Mia Spicer, CA senior, shared her Christian growth in this way. “Jesus does show Himself through us in the ASSIST Program. Being able to explain what school we come from often leads to the question, "So, you are a Seventh-day Adventist?" Then it just goes from there. At work we also have the opportunity to let Jesus work through us by the way we act. Sometimes, things can get a little frustrating, if we are really tired, or experienced a long day at school, that's when Jesus turns around and uses other residents to show Himself to us through kind words and gestures and smiles”.
Daniel Tanksley, a CA freshman, who is new to the program said, “God uses me by giving me the power to be cheerful, the desire to listen and smile.”
PFE (Partnering For Eternity) is a service scholarship program that SAU launched in October for students enrolled in Adventist elementary schools. The PFE program is designed to motive and grow the elementary age student in service, connecting each student with senior mentors under parental supervision, while providing service scholarship funds for tuition assistance.
GCSS elementary schools A.W. Spalding (AWS) and Collegedale Adventist Middle School (CAMS) collectively have 32 students participating with 396 service hours recorded through February.
by Deborah M. Zirakian, AWS/CAMS Recruiting/Communications, Collegedale Academy ASSIST Program Coordinator
photos by CA Students with seniors in the A.S.S.I.S.T. Program
CAMS & AWS Students with Senior Mentor in Partnering For Eternity Service Scholarship Program