College student serves Benton County’s poor through internship
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 02:03
Kayla Sundin didn’t become a world-changer by accident, and this winter, she found herself staffing and coordinating a seasonal women’s shelter for internship credit.
The Oregon State University senior spends hours each day doing administrative work to serve homeless women and others in poverty in Corvallis.
As a human development and family sciences major with an option in human services, Sundin has chosen to fulfill her internship requirement by working for the Benton County branch of Love in the Name of Christ.
According to its website, the Benton county branch of Love INC coordinates with 47 churches and fellowships in the area to serve the county’s impoverished.
The women’s shelter, housed in the Life Community Church, is open each winter from mid-November to mid-March. Two volunteers are required to be at the shelter each afternoon and evening shift, with a total of four volunteers needed per day.
One of Sundin’s jobs is fully staffing this shelter for over 10 weeks, in addition to being available on call for emergencies.
At work, she also communicates with churches who are partnering with Love INC’s new laundry program, which provides free laundry, with transportation, to those in need.
“A lot of the work I’m doing is administrative, which is stressful,” Sundin said. “But once I met a mom, who, when she found out her laundry was paid for that week, it was her saving grace. Those moments with clients make me realize, make me see my work in action.
“I really believe in justice — that the fruit of our hard work is way bigger than us,” Sundin said. “Lives are changing every day because needs are being met.”
Sundin wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, until she started working at a day care in high school. There, she realized she cared more about how kids’ lives and hearts were being affected than their education.
Looking back on the jobs she’s had, she finds one common thread: helping people. As a teen, in the summer she would work as a camp counselor at two different camps, where she built relationships with underprivileged kids.
In college, she began giving campus tours to prospective OSU students, but didn’t realize the impact she had on others’ lives until she moved into McNary Hall this year, and met six people on her floor who remembered her leading them on a tour.
It hit Sundin that her job was more than giving tours, and that her work was actually helping students decide where to go to college and where to invest four years of their lives.
Sundin’s father is a pastor, so she “was immersed in those values since birth.” Some people rebel against their parents’ religion, Sundin says, but her parents never forced anything on her. Ultimately, her faith was her choice.
“I remember when I was a kid, my parents took my sister and I to go buy other another family an entire Thanksgiving meal, who wouldn’t have had it otherwise,” Sundin said. “Seeing their surprise and gratefulness made me realize the impact this kind of lifestyle had on the world.”
Maddy Duthie, contributor