GRADUATE STUDENTS ASSIST WITH EVICTION PREVENTION PROJECT
Southern’s School of Social Work is partnering with organizers of the Chattanooga Coronavirus Eviction Prevention Project to provide free legal assistance to those in the local community. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for people to afford housing costs due to loss of work or unexpected expenses. This advisory service, funded by the 2020 CARES Act and spearheaded by the greater Chattanooga Community Foundation, helps individuals and families obtain financial resources to stay in their current residences or find new places to live if they have already been evicted.
In May 2020, the program reached out to the university’s School of Social Work for help with social services and case management. Graduate students Elizabeth Riley, ’20, and Susan Yates, ’20, began serving as case manager interns for the project.
“One of the first clients I worked with had a daughter on hospice with a prognosis of six months,” Riley said. “When they were evicted, they had to live at an extended-stay hotel. Walking through that process with her and seeing the struggles that this mother faced was an eye-opening and heartbreaking experience. These cases serve as a continual reminder of how far we have to go in reforming issues in the system. I love working for these families, and I am amazed by their tenacity, perseverance, and grit.”
In addition to providing the interns, the School of Social Work is tracking the effectiveness and experiences of the project through research. Professor Kristie (Young) Wilder, ’03, JD, is working with Riley to conduct and analyze qualitative interviews with tenants, landlords, and court watchers who take notes during the cases. Goals include a better understanding of the barriers to gaining housing security and the difference it makes when someone has both an attorney and a social worker on the case. Ultimately, Wilder and her team will make policy recommendations for better housing both locally and statewide.
“The program is a tangible way for Southern to spread the gospel in the community and live out our values,” Wilder said. “This is changing the court experience for people and allowing for their voices to be heard. It is important for our university to continue building these positive relationships with the greater Chattanooga community so that we can demonstrate how a faith-based institution cares deeply about the lives of others.”
PROFESSOR’S FAMILY ESTABLISHES NEW SCHOLARSHIP
For Adrienne Royo, PhD, chair of the Modern Languages Department, education is deeply embedded within her DNA. Not only was she one of five siblings to graduate from college, but her parents also attended medical school and graduate school. A gift to Southern from Royo’s father and late mother will help ensure that other families can pursue those same dreams for their children. The newly established Dr. Robert L. Wood and Joyce Shirley Wood Endowed Scholarship provides tuition assistance for students studying modern languages at Southern.
“My father’s philosophy was that financial means can go and come, but education can never be taken from you,” Royo said. “He told us children that our inheritance was a professional career, and that is exactly what he did. My late sister was a CPA, my oldest and middle brothers are both physicians, and my youngest brother is an electrical engineer.”
Before making the gift to Southern, Wood spoke with Royo about different giving options and asked if the funds would be better used for scholarships or for her departmental budget to help with other areas of the student experience. During her 12 years as a professor at Southern, Royo has seen multiple students fail to complete their modern languages degrees as a result of financial challenges, so she didn’t hesitate with her answer: “I told him to give the money directly to our students!”
While the scholarship gift was made, in part, to honor Royo’s scholarly accomplishments, it also points to her parents’ own passions. Her father has traveled to 60 countries—including Mexico, where he earned his doctorate in medicine—and her mother had a minor in Spanish, as well as having passed the proficiency exams in French and German while pursuing a PhD.
The Dr. Robert L. Wood and Joyce Shirley Wood Endowed Scholarship is Southern’s fourth scholarship designated specifically for the study of modern languages. Kenny Turpen, ’09, director for Advancement felt tremendous satisfaction from helping Wood navigate the philanthropy path necessary to build an endowment for Southern students.
“The most rewarding part of working on the creation of scholarships like this is helping generous alumni and friends of Southern give back to something specific that is meaningful to them,” Turpen said. “We’re thrilled each time we go through this process. It’s always exciting to help donors realize the impact their gifts will have for students!”
According to Royo, every teacher education major who graduates from Southern’s Modern Languages Department finds a job placement immediately. In fact, some students who are in their senior year already have job offers. She also sees the benefits for students who take language classes as an elective or as part of a minor.
“Languages provide a vehicle through which our students are obtaining critical skills that will facilitate their employability for life,” Royo said. “I regularly speak with alumni representing a variety of careers who tell me that their résumé was moved to the top of the pile of applicants due to their language facility.”
The Dr. Robert L. Wood and Joyce Shirley Wood Endowed Scholarship will award its first funds in the Fall 2021 semester. Additional gifts are welcomed to help grow the endowment’s principal. For more information, call 423.236.2467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPANISH-AMERICAN CHURCH BEGINS BUILDING NEW FACILITY ON CAMPUS
On October 11, members of the Collegedale Spanish-American Seventh-day Adventist Church held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new 30,000-square foot facility, which will include a sanctuary that seats 450 worshippers.
With roots going back to the mid-1980s, this congregation was Tennessee’s first Hispanic Adventist church and the first Hispanic church located on an Adventist college campus in the United States. Their emphasis on nurturing the spiritual development of students has increased greatly in recent years as enrollment demographics have diversified. This school year, approximately 25% of Southern’s student population is Hispanic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church held two Sabbath worship services and welcomed 250-350 worshippers each week. According to Associate Pastor Alex Rey, ’19, more than 50 of those were Southern students. Many weeks it was so crowded that some members and guests needed to sit in the church’s basement to watch the service on a television. Sabbaths like those were no deterrent for students. Anny Cordero, junior nursing major, believes so strongly in the church’s mission and its construction project that she has helped fundraise for the new facility.
“I’m excited,” Cordero said. “I can’t wait to see the new building and have more space to worship with my friends.”
Joseph Khabbaz, Southern’s vice president for Spiritual Life, welcomes this expansion and sees great value in supporting the Collegedale Spanish-American Seventh-day Adventist Church’s growth.
“Recent studies highlight the significant benefits young adults receive through meaningful church relationships and mentoring,” Khabbaz said. “This congregation plays a pivotal role in serving the needs of many of our Spanish-speaking students and helps Southern work toward one of our spiritual goals: encouraging young adults to engage in meaningful intergenerational ministry.”
The new church will be located between Collegedale Academy and the Collegedale Cemetery. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
SOUTHERN LEADERS SHARE INSIGHTS ON IT IS WRITTEN BROADCAST
This October, representatives from Southern joined It Is Written President John Bradshaw via Skype to discuss the Seventh-day Adventist Adult Bible Study Guide. This quarter’s study guide is comprised of lessons on the topic of education, written by various Adventist college and university presidents. Southern President David Smith, PhD, one of the authors, and Vice President for Spiritual Life Joseph Khabbaz provided insights on the first lesson, “Education in the Garden of Eden.”
“I was amazed at how many principles of Adventist education are found in the experience of Adam and Eve in their garden home,” Smith said. “In particular, the revelation of God’s amazing love in Eden provides a focus for any educational institution that would model itself after that first school.”
Although the lessons were originally written a number of years ago, their release now is relevant amid complex decision-making concerning education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While many people are wondering how to make education happen, It Is Written is able to strongly endorse Adventist institutions of higher learning by featuring college representatives teaching meaningful, spiritual material,” said Tibor Shelley, associate director of production and media for the religious broadcast. “The timing seems divinely appointed.”
VILLAGE MARKET CELEBRATES MILESTONE ANNIVERSARY
Homecoming Weekend is a special time each year when nostalgia is celebrated and memories are shared like gifts between members of the Southern family. Safety concerns involving COVID-19 meant most official events for 2020 were moved online, but there were still some exciting informal opportunities to celebrate—and save!—for those living near campus.
Southern’s Village Market opened its doors 50 years ago on October 27, 1970. Store management decided that a fun way they could pay homage to a half-century of operations would be by offering 1970 prices and 50% discounts on select items for one day only: October 27, 2020. Shoppers took advantage of throwback pricing on bananas (12 cents per pound), eggs (60 cents a dozen), milk ($1.19 per gallon) and other staples. Children enjoyed free balloons and gold-foiled chocolate coins.
The celebration was a hit with customers, but the Village Market’s mission includes goals beyond simply making money. Ingrid Skantz, ’90 and ’16 (MSA), vice president for Marketing and University Relations, believes the store plays a tremendous part in the university’s community outreach efforts.
“From its very inception, the Village Market has had a leading role in Southern’s vision for engaging the greater Chattanooga area,” Skantz said. “Even now—with the evolution of online shopping and the inclusion of vegetarian options and health supplements at nearly every grocery store—we still see shoppers with no other connection to campus, or Adventism, who regularly visit Southern and take advantage of the Village Market’s impressive selection of healthy products and staff expertise. We’re fortunate to have the store as a tool for relationship building and friendship evangelism.”
Village Market Manager Jackie Rose estimates that one-third of the store’s customers are not Adventist. Many of his vendors are also unfamiliar with the denomination. One of Rose’s favorite things about working for a faith-based business is the opportunity to freely share the gospel message, and he’s had many chances to do so since first beginning work there in 1996.
“I recently had a delivery driver who asked me what Seventh-day Adventists believe,” Rose said. “I went over the Sabbath, state of dead, and other unique doctrines with him before talking about what Jesus means to me: how He loved us enough to die for us and wants us both in Heaven for eternity. This big guy started crying and apologized for doing so. I told him that it was ok, that this is what understanding Jesus’ love does to us!”
In addition to providing unique products and an invaluable public presence for the last 50 years, Southern’s Village Market has also given generations of student workers critical training in soft skills such as customer service and time management. Currently, more than 60 Collegedale Academy and Southern students are employed part time at the store.
“It’s really a blessing to be at Southern working alongside students for so many years,” Rose said. “I have seen God’s hand at work in my relationships with them, and in every aspect of the store.”
-by Lucas Patterson, QuickNotes editor
MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICE SERVES FIRST RESPONDERS
Phoenix Health owner Janelle (Lockwitz) Edmondson, ’12, ’14, and ’17 (MSN), had dreamt of opening a mental health clinic since the earliest days of her training in the School of Nursing. Today, the nurse practitioner’s Chattanooga-based business maintains Southern ties through the employment of alumni and faculty, as well precepting work with current nursing students. Edmondson, pictured below, recently shared details regarding the founding and future of her practice.
How did Phoenix Health get started? A psychiatrist hired me to build a mental health practice. Once I got it established, I purchased it from him and changed the name to Phoenix Health, PLLC. Mental health has always been my passion, and I believe God has led me down this specific path where my faith and my professional interests intersect.
Beyond the critical nature of Phoenix Health’s paid, professional work, how else does your practice serve the community? My primary volunteer work is with first responders. I’m the Critical Incident Support Specialist for Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department, where I provide support and trauma therapy at no charge, and I’m also a member of the Tennessee Disaster Mental Health Strike Team and the Tennessee First Responder Suicide Prevention Task Force.
What’s been the most fulfilling aspect of operating your practice? It's hard to pick just one! Walking with first responders is more rewarding than I could ever adequately describe. They are dedicated, dependable, and consistently serving the community in its worst moments. I’m honored to serve those who selflessly serve all of us.
Did you have any mentors at Southern who helped shape your professional interests? School of Nursing Professor Maria Valenca, MD, inspired me to pursue my dreams of helping those who are navigating the difficulties of life. It’s wonderful to work alongside her now as a colleague.
What are your plans for Phoenix Health in the next five years? We plan to open more locations, and we have many other projects in the works, including the development of a nonprofit.
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