Students serve at-risk teenagers in spare time

Part of the university’s mission statement of “preparing students for leadership, service and faith-informed discernment in a global society,” is lived out by two sports management majors. Twice a week, Dr. Mickey Kerr, an exercise sport science professor, has students volunteer to go to an alternative high school in Belton to work with young people. “I was contacted by Debby Aldridge about having some of my students come to Waskow last September,” Kerr said. “They play intramural type games with them and also serve as mentors for the at-risk teens.” Senior sport management majors Tyler Burke and Bryson Tucker allow the students to be rewarded if they have good behavior throughout the day. Without their after-school volunteering, the boys at the high school would not have any physical exercise. “I do my best to give them a good example of what respect and courtesy looks like while being competitive,” Tucker said. “Every once in  a while, we will have a day where we don’t play sports, and we sit around and share personal thoughts and feelings about all of our different life experiences and how we handle them.” Aldridge, the site coordinator for Communities in Schools, is grateful to have Burke and Tucker’s help and commitment of giving up their own time to serve at the school. “I have been really pleased with them, their efforts and I’m just amazed at what quality individuals they are,” she said. “Both young men are so easy to work with … They have nice, low-key personalities and are not glory or ego seeking.” There has been positive feedback from everyone involved in volunteering. “The social workers said that the students we volunteer with are more productive and  have positive attitudes,” senior sports management major Burke said. Kerr agrees. “Debby is ecstatic about the results and overwhelmed by our students’ willingness to be there for the high school guys each week.” Not only is it good for the students to participate in physical exercise, but having someone to look up to means a lot to them as well. “We are able to talk to the guys about what is going on in their lives and be there for them since several of them don’t have a male figure in their life,” Burke said. Not only have the high school students benefited by having the after-school program, but  Burke and Tucker have been able to learn and are more prepared for when they graduate college from their work with volunteering. “It’s really showed me as a 22-year-old that some of my hardest days are like a walk in the park compared to some of...

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‘I love you’ spoken after days of silence
Jan11

‘I love you’ spoken after days of silence

Some students undoubtedly spent the break perfecting the term “couch potato”, but many took their time off to serve others around the world. Senior art major Alyssa Dickinson and sophomore Christian ministry major Ryan Murphy went to Haiti for the first time through GoNow Missions and Hope for the Hungry. Murphy had a certain goal in mind for the trip. “I hoped to accomplish our task at hand, to repaint an entire school, and to love on kids and share God’s love with the people of Haiti,” he said. Dickinson developed a bond there with a young boy named Isnold who had almost nothing to say to her. “On our final day, I ran up to Isnold, hugging him goodbye, and told him just how much I loved him, and he replied with ‘I love you, too,’” she said. “That was the first thing he said to me, as well as the last. He broke my heart for the orphans of the world.” Murphy hopes the experience was meaningful to everyone involved. “I would like to think that our trip was very successful and that God did big things in the lives of the Haitians and in my team’s hearts,” he said. Murphy’s favorite memory from the trip was bringing in the New Year by worshiping God with the Haitians. “It was amazing to see such authentic and real faith. And even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying, their love for the Lord was so evident and pouring out through their praise,” he said. Overall, he said the trip exceeded his expectations. “My team was amazing and like a family to me now. The nation of Haiti blew me away with its beauty, and God’s presence was overwhelming the entire trip,” Murphy said. Dickinson also noted the beauty of the country. “Flying into Haiti, seeing the mountains right next to the beach, I was awe-struck. But beyond the landscape, there is beauty found in their culture, in their people and in their strength,” she said. On the other side of the world, senior psychology major Brittany Richardson        experienced Moldova through GoNow Missions  where she worked with an orphanage. “The overall goal of the mission trip was to share the love of Christ by providing over 2,700 orphans with a new pair of winter boots and socks,” she said. She went into the experience trusting that God would provide for her. “My goal was just to go with an open mind and an open heart and to allow God to use me in whatever ways were possible, and I definitely believe that was achieved,” she said. The trip...

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Islamic Sharia Law shows extremist view should be feared
Nov16

Islamic Sharia Law shows extremist view should be feared

America has democracy and freedom of religion. Most Muslim nations have pockets of the radical form of power and religion known as Sharia. It is the body of the Islamic law, and its rules are based on those of the Quran and hadiths, which are sayings and examples of the Prophet. Encompassing Sharia are thousands of laws that have others in the world fearful of the influence, even an influence possibly in America. On Nov. 2, Election Day, the voters of Oklahoma approved a constitutional amendment that would bar Sharia and any other international law from being used in the state. Seventy percent of voters voted for the referendum. A federal judge blocked the amendment temporarily and a hearing will take place on Nov. 22. Traces of Sharia have been allowed and later banned in parts of Canada. Some of these laws include legal “honor” killings of women and girls by male family members. Women can be beaten for talking to men who are not a part of their family. They also can be flogged for not wearing a headdress, and non-Muslims can be beheaded.  Some customs have been getting media attention over the past couple of years. According to The New York Times, there was a case of Sharia in news this past summer when a wife from Iran was accused of adultery, and her husband was going to have her stoned. In this instance, it is a part of the law that women accused of adultery can be killed. The Iranian woman’s son and a lawyer intervened, however, and her stoning verdict has been suspended. A married couple who currently live in central Texas worked for about five years in Afghanistan with a non-governmental organization. The two would like to remain anonymous and will be referred to as John and Jane. The NGO oversaw medical and eye care centers and taught the locals how to maintain the facilities on their own to successfully run in the future. John and Jane later worked at an English and computer center where they taught English at the high school level. John never saw the radical form of Sharia in any of the towns where they lived and says that they there carried out normal lives. However, he said that women do not have the same freedoms as the women of America. “Women were treated with respect, I’m not going to say they were treated with equality, but I would say that at least publicly they were treated with respect,” he said. “We don’t know what went on behind closed doors.” Lately, fear has been rising in western countries that Sharia...

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Entrepreneur brings snow cones to Belton community
Nov16

Entrepreneur brings snow cones to Belton community

The neon sign on the Frosti Cones steel building blinks the letters O-P-E-N. The handmade deck and awning wrap around the pre-fabricated walls, creating a self-contained half ring in the corner of the Belton Summer Fun water park asphalt lot. Paul Marguglio stands behind the counter, another round of his life in full swing. His friend Brian McKay works the shaved ice machine for a customer, as a recent warm front has driven up his business again. McKay’s quiet and hardworking demeanor makes him the perfect partner to Marguglio, like a boxer’s corner man, ready to help and advise. Although November isn’t the prime selling month for ice cream and snow cones, Marguglio is not discouraged. He’s a fighter. “This was a spur-of-the moment idea. It was a risk and I took it,” he said. “It’s worked out for me.” The shop sits just 1.5 miles from campus, and has become a choice destination for students looking to soothe their sweet tooth since it opened in May 2010. “Good prices and good food; especially the Frosti Cone,” said sophomore business major Will Samford. Marguglio comes from a strong Italian family in Philadelphia. He spent his youth learning how to work with his hands from his father and spending time in the kitchen with his mother. But Marguglio found trouble in high school. Drinking led to drugs. The substance abuse got more frequent and more damaging. Thanks to his intuitive nature and friends in strong places, Marguglio found a good way to sustain his habit. He started selling. He had enough. As an early 20-something he was addicted and depressed. His solution was a drastic one. He drove as fast as he could on a dark road, reaching 100 miles per hour. He had learned to drive fast while pursuing an exhilarating hobby in racing. This time, his speed was not to feel alive, but to face death quickly. He locked his arms on the steering wheel, ready to swerve head first into oncoming traffic. But he couldn’t. “I wound up driving down the road, and I came up to a church,” he said. It was the same church his mother attended, and for some reason unknown to Marguglio, the doors were open, even though it was late at night. “I walked down the center of the aisle and I sat down in the center of the pews. I started crying and asking God for help. A gentleman walked in the back of the church. I was so ashamed I couldn’t even lift my head to see who entered,” he said.“I didn’t care, even if it was the cops and...

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Belton home undergoes demolition
Nov16

Belton home undergoes demolition

Dora Pruitt and her family had lived in the house for 27 years. But in September, the record flooding caused irreparable damage to the Pruitt house, located on the corner of 1st Street and Walker. Several UMHB students aided Pruitt in clearing her yard of the clutter so that the house could be bulldozed. Pruitt’s youngest grandson and middle grandson and his wife lived together along with her and her husband. After the flood, Pruitt and her husband moved to Nolanville while waiting to be cleared to reoccupy their home, living rent-free in an apartment while looking after storage facilities owned by a distant acquaintance. Last week, a city inspector condemned their house. “(It’s) very heart breaking for us to give it up,” Pruitt said. The family had been surviving on a total income of only $1,002 a month, with almost all of that amount coming from Dora Pruitt’s disability Social Security checks. “We don’t have no finances to fix nothing up,” Pruitt said. “(The house) is falling apart. The house does need to come down. … But it’s all we had.” City ordinance required them to clear the clutter from their yard so the house could be bulldozed. This requirement was literally impossible for Pruitt, who is disabled. Pruitt called the First Assembly of God in Belton, which was also damaged by the same flood, and the church put her in touch with UMHB’s Baptist Student Ministries Director Shawn Shannon. Shannon had previously sent students to help the church’s flood clean-up. “She seemed like a woman much in need of help,” Shannon said of Pruitt. Pruitt called Shannon on Tuesday morning Nov. 2. By that afternoon, a sign was posted in the Baptist Student Ministries building asking for help, and Shannon herself asked students to help Pruitt in cleaning her yard. On Thursday, Nov. 4, a group of students from UMHB led by Shannon worked for three hours cleaning up Pruitt’s yard. Ashlee “Joely” Ramirez, a freshman biology major, was among the group volunteering that day. “I felt that there was a need,” she said. “And definitely wherever there’s a need, I try and help out.” Ramirez had recently participated in the Poverty Simulation held during Missions Emphasis Week. “It opens your eyes. I can’t even explain it,” Ramirez said, concerning the simulation. Just a week after the simulation, Ramirez was helping Pruitt clear her yard. “It was overwhelming. … You always think of poverty being elsewhere in other countries,” Ramirez said, “but if you look around, close, in your hometown, you will find that there’s all different levels of poverty.” Pruitt’s house was scheduled to be demolished...

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Faculty package meals for Haiti

Written by Carissa Lucas Last Tuesday, at an old furniture store in Temple, 18,000 meals were packaged by faculty in partnership with the organization Kids Against Hunger. Assistant Professor of music Deborah Jones previously worked with the organization. “It was just such a tremendous experience,” Jones said. “Everyone who experienced it was thrilled to be a part of this project.” The organization packages and delivers food to children all over the world. When the UMHB faculty partnered with the organization, it was decided that the food packaged by volunteers would be delivered to designated areas of Haiti. The faculty assembly’s Christian Planning Committee, of which Jones is the chairman, was looking for a way for faculty to give back. “We’re trying to focus more on service as a university, so we thought the faculty needed to do a service project. We wanted to do something really big, so I brought up the Kids Against Hunger organization, and the committee just loved it,” Jones said. Assistant Professor of exercise and sport science Matt Lovett also serves on the  committee and was in charge of gathering donations from faculty for the service project. He was excited to work with his fellow colleagues to help out the organization. “Our faculty is so segmented across campus …. It was good to meet people across campus, hang out and interact with them, especially for something that’s such a good cause,” Lovett said. The faculty had to raise money and ended up earning about $3,000. This was enough for the 18,000 meals they packaged for children of Haiti. Assistant Professor of nursing Becky Bunn is also on the committee. She was in charge of scheduling faculty members for one of the two shifts needed to package the food. “We had two groups of 40 faculty members,” Bunn said. “My group was from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and the second group was from 5:30 to 7 p.m.” The volunteers formed an assembly line and packaged meals containing 21 vitamins and minerals, soy, vegetables and rice. The soy and nutrient-rich formula reverses the starvation process. Bunn and her colleagues enjoyed working together for Kids Against Hunger and hope to continue the tradition the faculty has started. “Some of us in the College of Nursing were saying we kind of hope that we make this a yearly project,” Bunn said. “It makes a difference. We were doing something together as a faculty that was going to make a difference in other people’s...

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