My summer interning with Serve Here has been the most fruitful summer of my life.
Through the leadership of older believers, the community of other interns, the wisdom of guest speakers, and my internship, I have learned and grown in ways that have exceeded anything I could’ve expected. As a Marketing Intern for Mission of Hope, I got to explore the back-end of missions, something I previously knew little about. I became more confident in my strengths and worked through my weaknesses, and I felt incredibly blessed to work alongside people who love the Lord deeply. I now have a stronger sense of the things that excite me and drive me, of what I desire in a career, and I have a clearer idea of the steps I want to take after I graduate.
Spiritually, I got to know the Lord so much more through the people He surrounded me with. God intentionally weaves people into our lives for specific purposes, and I got to see that play out in the most beautiful way this summer. Through ServeHere and Mission of Hope, I have felt the depth and power that relationships centered on Christ can hold. From the sacrificial love, guidance, and support of my mentor, to learning from and building friendships with other interns and coworkers, I have experienced the life-giving unity of the body of Christ. What I learned this summer will impact me for life, and I’m so grateful that Serve Here is part of my story!
I came into this summer a little broken. This past year has been one of unforeseen adversities and honestly, unmet expectations. As I came upon my 2nd semester of my junior year, I knew I needed to find an internship for the summer. But, I wanted it to be impactful. I just didn’t know how to make my passions and major and professional career line up together. I asked my non-profit professor if he had any leads on anything, and he told me about Serve Here. Being a student at Texas A&M, and not having any ties to Austin, I had no clue what Serve Here was. I looked it up, and thought “hmmm okay, I’ll apply and see what happens.” Fast forward 5 months and I had my first day as a Marketing and Communications intern at Makarios. Makarios is a school that exists to love, educate and empower children and their families in the Dominican Republic. They have an office out of Austin, where I was all summer. During this internship, I learned what it would look like to work with people who are missionally minded, but pursuing that in a more professional and business setting, even if it is a non-profit. I had the opportunity to work under people that know what matters and how to take hard things (generational poverty in the DR) and make something beautiful out of them (ending that poverty, one child at a time.) I loved my time at Makarios and the conversations and people I worked with were life-giving, especially after a season of trials. If Makarios wasn’t enough (which it was), I had the incredible opportunity to be an intern in Serve Here. Every week, hearing from leaders and people that have quit stable jobs to follow God’s call in wherever that may be was amazing. I had the chance to hear from someone that is fostering children as a single woman to someone that was revamping the way we love and serve people who have been incarcerated. Week after week, I saw God in these people. I saw His character more clearly. I saw needs being met by people who were not qualified, but had just said “yes.” From these incredible speakers, but also from the interns in Serve Here with me, I feel compelled to dream and believe that what God has for me is big, mighty and scary, in the best way.
Iesha asked at one of the last meetings to describe our summer in one word. Mine was healing. This summer has reminded me of the Lord’s faithfulness and that He has me even when things do not make sense. He had ordained every single thing that has happened this summer, from Serve Here to Makarios to my mentor to the people I was surrounded with in this new city, He was there in the middle orchestrating it all. That gets me really pumped to follow Him forever and know that whatever I may be doing, He is going to be right there.
I am grateful for this summer; the lessons learned, the mundane, the faithful people I learned from and let me not forget, mopac expressway. Leaving Austin to head into my senior year, I am more prepared for whatever job/ calling the Lord has for me, which to me, is a HUGE success.
What would you tell someone who was on the fence about applying?
I would tell them that there is incredible growth to be experienced. I would tell them that rarely will your faith get to be put to the test so tangibly. In Austin, as students at UT, we can get caught up with only knowing people who look and act like us. In ServeHere, you will mentored and grown into a person who cares for and acts for underserved people groups who are often overlooked or forgotten. It is a chance to grow immeasurably in your faith in a way that is uncomfortable and unique.
What was your most impactful experience?
Every Thursday night during my internship I attended the TROM women’s bible study. These women, who are all formerly incarcerated, took me in like one of their own. They questioned, cried at, and loudly celebrated their faith. They interacted with God so surely and tangibly that I realized time and time again how I fail to do this. It is true that the comfortable act like they don’t need Jesus. These women are not comfortable, and they were desperately aware they needed Jesus.
How do you view God differently now?
I view God as an all-consuming presence, who’s personhood is not a question, but a fact. I do not want for God to show up in my circumstances, but look for the ways he already has. I fight to see God in people; he is in every one of us itching for us to recognize someone that it different than us, acknowledge the beautiful way they are created, and thus to see him in a new light.
What did the people group you served teach you about yourself?
I went into my internship at TROM recognizing a lot of prejudice and stereotyping within myself, and wanting desperately for God to clear me of it. I knew that I struggled with feeling physically threatened or intimidated often, and knew that working with formerly incarcerated individuals would deeply challenge my sense of comfort. I realized how strong and peaceful our God is and how he can literally vanquish fear within us. The people group I served taught me and loved me with abandon, reminding me that what I learn is directly correlated to how I listen.
We are thrilled to officially introduce and welcome Iesha Boitmann to ServeHere in her new role as Program Director.
This is a divine appointment that has been many years in the making! We had the benefit of getting to know Iesha well as a leader at Makarios International, where the interns we placed with her always sang her praises and grew like crazy. She was also a favorite guest speaker in our summer program, year-after-year.
In her new capacity at ServeHere, Iesha will be leading our programming efforts on a day-to-day basis. This is a big role that includes recruiting, discipling and mentoring our students, developing curriculum, making placement decisions, and managing relationships with our nonprofit partners.
This is a role perfectly suited for Iesha, whom we know to be extraordinarily discerning, a gifted discipler, and a natural leader. She is also well positioned to encourage and support our partners because of her experience as director of operations at a cross-cultural, high-impact nonprofit.
Iesha and her husband Brian are both UT alums who live missionally and are passionate about integrating their faith with their work and the world around them. They were recently joined in this journey by Lucia, their new baby girl.
We are grateful that Iesha was called to share her unique gifting with ServeHere in this exciting new way. Having Iesha on board is an important milestone in the growth and development of ServeHere and a reminder that God is always providing for what He is calling us to do!
We recently kicked off the start of our 5th summer program with 13 very talented college students who have been making a mark on their campuses and in our communities. A record 80 students applied for this summer’s program, making the selection process extremely challenging!
Students in the Summer 2017 class are rising juniors and seniors from the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Mary Hardin Baylor and Valparaiso. While there is a strong concentration of marketing & communications majors this summer, this group also stands out for its cross-cultural interests with students studying International Relations and foreign languages like Spanish, French and Arabic.
A summer with ServeHere provides many learning opportunities. The students’ new classrooms are the internship placements where they are challenged to apply what they have learned in their field of study in order to make a real impact. They also meet one-on-one with a mentor and in weekly group sessions where students tackle a challenging curriculum designed to prepare them to lead a life of significance.
This summer, internship placements were made in eleven different non-profits around Austin. Most of these organizations serve populations that struggle with poverty. But their clients’ circumstances are very diverse — spanning the homeless, displaced and disadvantaged youth, refugees, young mothers, severely disabled children, and villagers in Africa and the Dominican Republic.
Our Summer 2017 Non-profit Partners
Our two day kick-off session gave our students a chance to meet each other, learn from inspirational speakers, participate in workshops, and reflect on their goals for this summer. They are now off and running — applying themselves in full-time roles where they are learning to be as successful on the job as they have been on campus.
We started ServeHere with a desire to build deep and long-term relationships with the students who participate in our program. During the interview process, many students heard me express this philosophy in saying “I’d love to build a relationship where you’d want to invite me to your wedding.”
So…this was a particularly joyful summer as we attended the weddings of three ServeHere alumni!
SCOTT AND PAIGE SHAVERIn the summer of 2014, Scott Shaver and Paige Blomstedt found themselves sharing an office at Mission Possible, interning in the marketing and development area. Scott is from Austin and was attending Texas A&M. His officemate, Paige, was from College Station and attended UT. Despite having lots of things in common, they had no idea they’d end up sharing much more than office!
Celebrating Paige and Scott’s big day!
By the end of the summer, romance was in the air and they decided to try this distance-dating thing (made a bit easier with each person having their family home in their partner’s college town). It apparently worked pretty well as a junior year of dating turned into a senior year engagement — and an awesome wedding at a ranch in Navasota this June.
One of the things I love about this couple is their commitment to following God’s calling on their lives. Paige was a Supply Chain major and after spending her summer with ServeHere, she spent the next summer interning with Boeing in Seattle. Scott, a marketing and business honors major, spent his summer after ServeHere in the Dallas office of Concur, a very successful software company. Having vocationally experienced the worlds of marketplace and ministry, each of them felt the place they could live most significantly was directly in service to others. For Paige, that has taken the shape of leading YoungLife in the Woodlands. For Scott, he is teaching at YES Prep, a public charter school for low-income students in Houston.
These two roles are obviously far afield from the areas where Scott and Paige succeeded at in school. But they are exactly where God wants them to be, doing life together, with opportunities to directly impact the kingdom every minute of their working days.
KASSIE GONZALEZWhen I first met Kassie she was a junior pre-law student with the coolest sounding major of any student in the program – Humanities: Medical Law and Ethics. She had actively explored this world through internships in legal offices and in research associate roles at UT – but she was still trying to connect the dots between her faith and her vocational interests. Going to law school shouldn’t be just another achievement – if she was to spend three years there, Kassie knew it should be connected to a higher calling.
After a lot of discussion, we placed Kassie at Refugee Services of Texas in the role of a caseworker in the summer of 2015. She thrived in the environment even as she took on the burdens of helping settle displaced refugee families from the Middle East and Cuba in the very foreign city of Austin, Texas. Kassie’s internship at RST opened her eyes to the challenges and injustices faced by so many people, along with the need for someone with a legal background to stand up for, and stand alongside, these people. This insight helped give her the conviction to fully pursue gaining admission to a top law school.
In the spring of her senior year, Kassie became the first student to experience the ServeHere Master Class (SMC). This is a new program where we take students who have previously done a summer or semester with us and create a custom experience where they can go even deeper. For her SMC, Kassie was placed at Mobile Loaves and Fishes, working directly with the founder, Alan Graham. Kassie painstakingly researched the city of Austin’s statutes and brainstormed with Alan how our laws would need to be changed to accommodate programs that can employ the homeless community in street-based micro-enterprises.
Early in the semester Kassie shared the good news with me that she was now engaged to her long-time boyfriend Josh. Toward the end of the semester, we celebrated her acceptance into the UT-Austin Law School, her top choice. A couple of months later, we celebrated her wedding in the memorable setting of Chapel Dulcinea in the Texas hill country.
AND THERE’S MORE…I am thankful for each of the students God enables me to meet, mentor and encourage in their journeys. I’m especially thankful that He allowed me to develop relationships where I can be a part of lives — and moments — like these.
In the past month, two more invitations have arrived in the mail for weddings in 2017. How could life get any sweeter?
This week we kicked off another season of ServeHere with an intensive, two day orientation session designed to prepare our students for a successful summer and life after college.
After a very competitive recruiting process during the spring, 13 students were selected to participate in this summer’s program. The Summer 2016 class hails from the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Concordia and Valparaiso. There is a strong concentration of business majors this time, but we have engineering, communications and education majors as well.
A summer with ServeHere provides many learning opportunities, with the most important being the student’s carefully selected internship placement with a local non-profit. This is their new classroom and a place where they are challenged to apply what they have learned in their field of study in order to make a real impact.
This summer, internship placements were made in eleven different faith-based non-profits around Austin. Virtually all of these organizations serve populations that struggle with deep poverty. But their clients’ circumstances, are very different — spanning the homeless, underprivileged youth, refugees, juvenile offenders, recent convicts, villagers in Africa and the Dominican Republic, young mothers and more.
Our Summer 2016 Non-profit Partners
Our two day kick-off session gave our students a chance to meet each other, learn from inspirational guest speakers, participate in workshops, and reflect on their goals for this summer. Already it is clear that this is a very engaging group of young adults who are motivated to live a life of significance!
Lars Anderson is a rising senior and Civil Engineering major at Valparaiso University in Indiana. This summer, Lars was placed in an internship with Water to Thrive (W2T) where he is putting his engineering background to good use, helping improve how water wells are more consistently and successfully established and managed in the African communities served by W2T.
Earlier this summer, Lars traveled to Ethiopia for two weeks with W2T leaders and donors to see the work first-hand and to make connections with their in-country partners.
Read Lars’ reflection on his exciting and eye-opening journey to Ethiopia.
When I accepted my position as an intern with Water to Thrive in Austin, I knew that a trip to Ethiopia would be a part of it. What I didn’t realize was how much I would learn about the country and how visible the impact would be that W2T has on rural communities there. Over the span of two weeks, our small group toured about 40% of the country and had the chance to visit twelve well sites sponsored by donors. W2T has been funding water projects in Ethiopia since it was founded in 2007 and in that time, numerous groups of donors from all around the United States have had the chance to travel there. Our group of nine people included W2T’s founder, executive director, another intern, myself, and five other travelers.
We traveled to six major Ethiopian cities, separate from the rural communities. In Addis Ababa, the capital, we saw the National Museum, which among many
International treasures, contained the skeletal remnants of Lucy. In Lalibela, we saw the incredible rock-hewn orthodox churches, with each architectural aspect symbolizing something biblical. In Axum, we saw the ancient obelisks which serve as markers of tombs of royalty. Near Hawassa in the Omo Valley, we met members of the Mursi tribe, where the women are famous for using lip-plates. We had a fantastic tour guide (who is pictured above) to show us all of this and much more throughout the trip.
As amazing as it was to see and learn the history of the beautiful country, it couldn’t compare to the opportunity to be with the twelve rural communities and celebrate the gift of clean water. Each of the wells we visited was recently completed or will be soon. And each one serves at least 200 people and often
many more due to the need in the areas. At some of the most recently completed wells, we were greeted with popcorn, coffee, dancing, and shouts of celebration. But at each completed site, we heard how much of a difference the clean and accessible water was having on the health and well-being of the people. Women no longer spent hours collecting water for their families and hurting their backs with the weight of the containers. Children, especially five and under, no longer fell ill or died due to water-borne diseases. The overall improved well-being of the community often brought more opportunities for education, women’s rights, and collaboration for further improvements. It was full of truly special moments as we celebrated with the communities on behalf of the contributions of so many.
On an individual level, the trip has already impacted me in numerous ways. Professionally, the experience provided a clear view of one way I can use my engineering degree and set me up to complete a difficult task this summer.
We met just a few representatives from W2T’s hard working local partners REST and DAASC. Without these organizations and their intuitive and skilled leaders, none of the projects we saw could have been completed with the same results described in the section above.
For me, it was really neat to see how these leaders, who each had technical backgrounds, had committed themselves to addressing the massive need of clean water supply in their country. I only hope I can commit myself in a similar way to a need and help generate results as visible and widespread. As I visited each well site, I took notes on the specific aspects of each project. This included site selection, well construction techniques, water committee organization, water source protection, as well as social and cultural concerns. These notes, in combination with research on water supply processes form the basis of the best practices document that Thomas, another ServeHere intern with W2T, and I will dedicate most of the summer to creating.
Personally, the experience has greatly influenced my perspective. Before the trip, I heard something that has stuck with me since. It was along the lines of
“All we can bring to a situation is our perspective.” I have thought a lot on that since. Ask anyone who’s traveled to a different country or spent time among those of a very different background, and I think this idea would resonate with them.
I think there’s something special about sharing your perspective and hearing or seeing a very different one. For me, it does at least two things. It first reaffirms the many similarities that exist between people and then it enables me to see how my own perspective and role may fit into a larger context. The first concept was most clear to me as I talked with a woman who owned a small shop in the city of Axum. The woman was 22 years old, and had three adorable kids with her.
She knew a little English and when I told her I was 21, she pointed out that “we are similar.” It was a neat moment because I realized that in spite of all of our differences, we were really more similar than different. The second concept is one that I think I’ll always be figuring out, one that will hopefully become clearer as I determine how I can serve and do my part in an organization.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel with W2T on this incredible trip to Ethiopia. It was an experience that will certainly continue to guide me in my life and professional decisions. I am excited to see how my time with Water to Thrive continues to challenge my thinking on how to best serve rural communities in Africa.
After another very busy spring recruiting season, we kick off our ServeHere Summer 2015 program with a fine group of amazingly talented, diverse and Christ-honoring students!
Just a few of this summer’s best and brightest, from Texas and beyond.
At 14 students, this summer’s class is the largest yet — and winnowed down from 40+ applicants. More universities are represented than ever before, with students from the University of Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas State, Valparaiso and Winona State College. Their fields of study span from business to biology, economics to ethics, communications to community studies, and well beyond.
While a summer with ServeHere provides many learning opportunities, the most important is each student’s handcrafted internship placement with a local non-profit. This is their new classroom and a place where they are challenged to apply what they have learned in their field of study in order to make a real impact.
This summer, internship placements were made in eleven different faith-based non-profits around Austin. These organizations each serve populations that struggle with deep poverty. But their clients’ circumstances, are very different — spanning the homeless, underprivileged youth, refugees, juvenile offenders, recent convicts, African villagers, young mothers and more.
Our Summer 2015 Non-profit Partners
This week, we kicked off the summer with an intensive two day training session designed to prepare ServeHere students for success in life and in their new assignments. This crew wasn’t shy about studying themselves and engaging in challenging conversations about the world we live in. It’s going to be an awesome summer watching them grow while making an enormous impact on their organizations.
Addison Roden is a rising senior in the Business Honors program at the University of Texas, with a minor in Spanish. She was accepted by ServeHere and placed in a marketing internship at Side By Side Kids (SBSK) in the spring semester of her junior year. SBSK is a faith-based after-school program that now operates in three urban public elementary schools in the St. John’s area of Austin.
During the internship semester, Addie and two other McCombs students entered and won L’Oreal’s national Brandstorm Competition in NYC, topping 100 other teams. UT lit the tower to recognize the accomplishment and the team earned another trip, this time to Paris, for the international finals!
Addie is a great representative of her generation and the students that ServeHere seeks to attract and develop. She is an incredibly talented, hard working and humble person who sees the big picture in life. And her faith doesn’t take a backseat to her professional aspirations.
Read Addie’s reflection on the impact of her experience with SBSK.
There are a variety of ways to learn. You can learn by seeing, listening, and experiencing. Throughout my internship at Side by Side Kids (SBSK) and my time with ServeHere, I learned so many new things, in so many different ways.
I watched the staff at SBSK and learned how to rely on the Lord to supply what I need each and every day. Working in the same office as our Executive Director and Volunteer Coordinator gave me unique insights into the daily operations of a non-profit organization. I saw blessings come into our organization from generous donors, and I saw the staff rely on Jesus for strength when they were tired, discouraged, or worried that we wouldn’t have the resources needed to accomplish our goals. I saw how everyone encouraged one another with scripture and prayer, and when my internship came to a close, I saw how the staff valued the work I had put into the organization, and the time I was able to spend with them.
I listened to my mentors and learned new marketing strategies and how to best manage new projects. From the first time I interacted with ServeHere until my last meeting of the semester, I was instructed on a variety of topics that helped me in my internship, and that will continue to aid me as I move forward. I heard about different ways to get the most out of the time I had at my internship, marketing strategies for a digital platform, and ways to strengthen my writing skills. The one-on-one instruction that I was given allowed me to ask questions and glean information from people who had more experience and insights than I did.
I experienced new things and learned how to use the Adobe suite, write better blog posts and newsletter articles, and apply for grants. My first project at SBSK was to update marketing materials with new information. I had never used the Adobe suite before, and I was able to learn a new skillset through experiencing it firsthand. In addition, I improved my written communication skills through writing bi-monthly blog posts and newsletters.
When I began my time with ServeHere, I hoped to gain experience that I could use as I look towards graduating college. The experience far exceeded my expectations, and I am so grateful for the time I had to work alongside the staff at SBSK and ServeHere.