For Aug. 16th, 2020
The countdown is on! In T-minus Camp Agape, deep-clean, move-in, school time.
This summer is flying by, but there are a couple more projects yet to be done in the next three weeks before classes commence (and yes… I said three weeks…)!
One of the major events many AO members have been working on this summer is the execution of a virtual Camp Agape Northwest. Since 1997, Camp Agape has been providing children with cancer and families a week’s break from life's everyday challenges.
Agape is one of the several associated ministries of Jeff and Deb Greer’s, who themselves were parents of a child with cancer.
This year Camp Agape said goodbye to Jeff Greer as they’ve known him since day one, Camp Director. While remaining very much involved, the Greers hope it will be a little more conversational (like perhaps between children and families over milkshakes...) and less administrative than it has been for their many years of service.
What more? In order to accommodate the current health crisis and ensure that families still feel loved, camp volunteers are throwing a virtual,
Camp Agape spectacular!
(insert exclamation points and lots of confetti!)
Typically, families can participate in Camp Agape for two years. So while not wanting to miss a summer of fun and Agape love, camp leaders didn’t want this quasi-Camp experience to count toward the two-year attendance limit.
This year’s theme of Camp Through the Ages deepens the sense of interconnectedness and familiarity in this uncertain time, with memories of Superheroes, Trolls, Rock ‘n Roll, and other themes alike.
As a staging ground for many of the virtual camp’s activities, the AO has been full of life and energy as volunteers pack boxes brimming with crafts, games, goodies, and fun that correspond with each day’s activities.
In less than a week, volunteers will be parading down the streets of the Seattle Area in a festive caravan, delivering camp-in-a-box, spreading cheer, and warming hearts. Families will have planned activities for each day, a library of videos / electronic resources to explain games and crafts (or just those that say howdy-hi-hello), and live video time with volunteers.
Every year, people come from far and wide to spend this week with families, drawn in by the Spirit and brought back by Agape’s lasting impact. This year would have been no different. But sometimes unconditional love calls us to make sacrifices today that benefit tomorrow.
This year, virtual Camp is what that looks like.
It’s an unprecedented feat, but it’s all for the love of the families and the kiddos who live everyday life with a health crisis of their own.
To learn more about this amazing organization and the people involved, visit our affiliates page under the “About” section, or donate today!
After that, it’s really crunch time for the AO folks!
All summer long, staff members and students have been working on maintenance projects as is custom for this time of year:
This post begs many-a-mention of Jeff Greer’s talents, one of which is fine woodworking.
Whether you’ve walked through our home on your own two feet or merely the website slideshow, you can attest to the beautiful art and woodwork that adorns the Alpha Omega House. Do you see those tall, elegant, way-too-expensive-to-be-living-in-a-college-house, wooden vases in the living room? Well, Jeff made them. The sturdy, I-can-rest-free-of-the-anxiety-that-this-will-crash-down-on-me-in-my-sleep, bunk beds?
Yep, Jeff Greer too.
He is wonderful.
In so many ways, we are blessed to have him as a role model, a leader, and bunk bed maker here at 501 University Ave!
And we are so excited to welcome students back into the house, despite all the questions that remain surrounding school this coming year. As almost, kind-of, not really, but in a way mentioned above, AO House leaders are preparing to enter the school year safely and healthily.
On top of pre-existing cleaning regimens, this will include things like a quarantine room should the need arise and other COVID-19 safety precautions.
Before we can even go there however, we’ve got our own final deep clean before students start showing up! Elbow grease on, toothbrushes out. Nothing feels quite as good as giving this house a little of the lovin’ it gives us all year ‘round!
August 16th folks. That’s the day. We’ll be waiting here with open arms (convenient for those whose arms will be full of boxes)!
Until then, stay happy, stay healthy. Get that vitamin D!
And one last thanks to all of you who participated in our Open House! It was a blast! (And that’s not just the wine talking (our AO House private label wine, that is)). If you missed it or couldn’t attend or just want to relive a super awesome time, you can check out the recording here.
And please reach out if you have any questions before the big day >> firstname.lastname@example.org
The AO crew
a reserved and independent resident of the Alpha Omega House since summer of 2019, has quietly built herself a life of service and friendships therefrom here in Missoula, MT. You would never guess because she would never tell you, but Bethany has played an integral roll in the lives of many of our community members since her arrival.
With who might you ask? What could be the cause of such high praise?
Well… I won’t get ahead of the story.
Originally from Illinois, Bethany first came West in search of nothing in particular; objectively, to enroll in the Rocky Mountain School of Photography; metaphorically, to satisfy her burning and innate appetite for adventure.
Missoula’s impression didn’t fade with time after she returned home post-graduation, and eventually, it brought her back for a summer of work, which turned into a year of residency, and potentially a whole future, ready for the making.
THAT’S where our story begins.
Bethany moved into the Alpha Omega House upon the recommendation of a church member, a hope, and a prayer. A naturally introverted person, she didn’t know how well living in a house full of other young adults would blow over.
“I fought it for a while, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Bethany laughed when I asked about her year in the AO.
In the fall of 2019, as she began looking for ways to develop her photography, Bethany picked up a job working with a population for which she cares deeply and, at times, prefers to 20-year-olds: the elderly.
Home Instead hired more than just an employee when Bethany signed onto the job. They hired a friend, confidant, additional family member, and what would become a beacon of light for this at-risk community during the COVID pandemic.
“I’ve always had a huge heart for the elderly,” Bethany said in my conversation with her. In fact, she has tossed around ideas of serving this community by reconstructing stories and building end-of-life respect and appreciation through photography.
On the day of the shutdown, Bethany was serving seven clients in Missoula, soon to be eight.
“It was hard in the beginning,” Bethany said. Not only were the health practices rigorous (full PPE, intense sanitation, etc.), but Bethany, and all those like her, made the difficult decision to isolate themselves from family, friends, and loved ones for the safety of her clients.
“I didn’t want to isolate myself, but I couldn’t put my clients through that,” she said in reference to spreading the virus. “I don’t know what I would do if one of my clients got sick.”
Not many students remained in the AO House during spring break and for the rest of spring semester. But those that did, kept quarantine as lively and interesting as possible. Bethany, however, couldn’t enjoy such luxuries. She had to keep careful tabs on who was where and when, only using the kitchen and bathroom when they were empty of others, and spending most of her time in her room.
“It was breaking my bond with you girls and slowly wearing on me.”
Even so, it’s not something Bethany mentions without prompting. Several of her clients rely on Bethany alone as a caretaker, a detail that isn’t missed by her and certainly not by those she cares for. Although it was hard in more ways than one, Bethany spins perspectives and looks at situations through the lives of those she serves, day in and day out.
She even jokes about the small things. “I was happy that I was essential and got to be out while everyone else was stuck at home. That gave me a sense of freedom. But I could also wake up 10 minutes before my shift because no one was on the road!”
When asked how she stayed sane, she just smiled and shrugged, “Lots of movies I guess,” without hesitating to laugh at her joke, and say that the people make it worthwhile; she is just happy to take part in their lives.
One woman in particular has made herself quite at home in Bethany’s heart. With no family or other caretakers in Missoula, she and Bethany have developed a special friendship that epitomizes the role of caring for the elderly.
“Sometimes I just go over and say, ‘You don’t have to pay me, I help you because I love you and I want to help.’ She’s just a delight and a joy; she keeps me going.”
Bethany truly has a servant’s heart, always talking about the ways in which her clients have touched her life.
“I guess because I don’t have family here, my clients are my family.”
We can assuredly say that such positive ripples of love are reciprocal, not only between Bethany and her clients, but all those touched thereafter, including us at the Alpha Omega House. We are so proud and lucky to call Bethany our friend.