Sharing Stories and Changing Lives – Students at Roseland Christian Ministries

Seniors Bethany (Kerr) Eizenga and Monica BrandsSeniors Bethany (Kerr) Eizenga and Monica Brands are on an incredible journey as they complete their English program field education with Roseland Christian Ministries in Chicago.

Eizenga and Brands began mid-summer working with members of Roseland Christian Ministries, conducting interviews that will be compiled into a book. The students are conducting “shaped” interviews based on the methods of Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and radio broadcaster known for his interviewing abilities. Through these interviews, both the workers and clients of Roseland Christian Ministries share their hearts and lives.

“We hope that these shaped interviews will have immediate value for the Roseland Christian Ministries community, both for those interviewed and for public relations and development,” said Dr. Mike Vander Weele ’73, professor of English.

Through this project, Brands and Eizenga have immersed themselves in the Roseland culture and conducted several taped interviews, which they are now transcribing into text for the book. The final publication will tell the stories of the ministry to churches, supporters, potential supporters, and volunteers.

“These stories are amazing,” said Eizenga. “Most of these people have experienced things that many of us here at Trinity couldn’t imagine. Their stories are important and meaningful,” she said. “We’re just helping communicate them.”

Dr. Mike Vander Weele ’73 (left) and Reverend Joe Huizenga ’01 in an early meeting with Eizenga and Brands to discuss the projectTo better understand the people and to help build relationships, Brands and Eizenga have become actively involved in Roseland’s Wednesday night worship services. There they experience the Roseland community and witness the praise members continue to give to God despite trying situations.

“It’s been a lot of fun going to the Wednesday night worship,” Brands said. “It’s more meaningful when you’re a part of the community.”

The project was born out of a conversation between Reverend Joe Huizenga ’01, director of development at Roseland Christian Ministries, and Dr. Vander Weele, whose advanced writing class, 10 years prior, worked on a similar project with Rest Haven, titled “Age to Youth: Rest Haven Residents Tell Their Stories to Trinity Students.” The class conducted interviews, compiled pictures, and arranged their work into a 32-page book.

“Bethany and Monica are being attentive to the voices of others, and making it possible for those voices to reach a larger audience,” Vander Weele said.

The project is expected to conclude in December with the final book including between seven and nine personal stories.