‘Girls Night In’ forms community
There was an exclusive party thrown which started early in the evening and ran until midnight. Individuals listened to music, painted, played Wii Sports, ate popcorn and watched “The Princess Diaries 2.”
There was only one catch: the attendees had to be girls.
The Fannin Center has been home to different campus ministry events and the occasional potluck, but on Friday night, it opened its doors for the first ever “Girls Night In.”
This event was open to all female students no matter their involvement, affiliation or beliefs.
“I wanted other girls that we don’t see in ministry and that we don’t see in chapel,” program coordinate Adrienne Eason said. “It’s between the start of the semester and spring break, and I figured people are going to be stressed. I wanted girls across campus who had never stepped foot into Fannin come in and just hang out.”
Since October, she had been organizing all the activities, perfecting the smallest details.
“I was just talking about how I was having one with my friends that night to a couple of students,” Eason said. “When they thought we should have one, I figured why not. I love [girls nights], they’re great.”
Eason said she finds herself having one every few weeks. They take away her stress of everyday life, and according to her, sometimes she just needs her “girl time.”
One attendee, Mara Lameyer, is a biology major and she said her workload causes her to seek out her friends to calm her down.
“It just makes me feel better when I’m around them,” Lameyer said. “I feel my stress level lower immediately, and it shifts my focus from what is happening in my own little world to what’s going on in other people’s lives.”
Lameyer and Eason are not the only females who go to their friends to vent or relieve stress.
One UCLA study by Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor shows that women react to stress by releasing a large portion of oxytocin. Due to this, women seek out support from friends to counteract it.
This reaction is vastly different than men, who release a low amount of oxytocin. The average reaction of stress for males is to escape the situation and bottle up their emotion.
The result showed that a tight group of friends allowed an individual to conquer the tragedies much better than someone without that.
“Whenever I walk the lake, I always invite a friend,” Eason said. “For the first 20 minutes we’ll just vent to each other about life. It helps me. I don’t keep it in very well at all.”
This was, partially, a result of the event.
“You could see that there were no cliques at this event, there wasn’t an outsider,” Lameyer said.
Eason noted several times that there weren’t girls who were sitting by themselves. Someone came up and asked them to join them.
For Girls Night In being an “exclusive event,” it was anything but, for Eason felt inclusivity was the ultimate goal.
“All Florida Southern females were invited to go for a night of hanging out,” attendee Monika Mielecki said. “It did not matter the individual’s religious beliefs, political affiliation, how popular she was or how involved she was on campus. It was just a group of girls who hung out for the night.”
Eason said Girls Night In was a successful event, and she can foresee it becoming an annual or even a semi-annual event. The party showed that individuals do not have to come from the same background to come together and have fun.
Sandwich Ministries impacts community and volunteers
Sundays at Florida Southern are the quietest days of the week. There aren’t many planned events, and most students take the day to finish homework, do laundry or binge-watch the next season of a show on Netflix.
However, one spot on campus is bustling with students making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packing a cooler full of Gatorade and other snacks. Sandwich Ministries is a service organization that meets every Sunday at 1 p.m. to make lunches for the homeless in Munn Park.
Vice President Sierra Kitchen checks the inventory early Sunday morning to see what could be packed. She said the organization knows well in advance when it’s running low on supplies.
“Right now, I can tell you that next week is our last week for bread,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen said it’s easier when other organizations donate leftover food or students buy supplies from the Moc Mart.
“After the Campus Ministries Block Party, there were hot dogs left over that we were able to pack,” she said.
Kitchen has been involved with Sandwich Ministries since her first semester at FSC. She said she fell in love with the ministry and the impact it has on the community.
“I mean, you look at what we do, and it’s just making sandwiches,” Kitchen said. “It’s something a five year old can make. It’s something people eat every day, but can you say the same thing for those in need? When we hand them out at the parks, people’s faces light up.”
Tyjhe Grayson transferred to FSC last year and said he was looking for somewhere to get involved.
“It’s something great to do on Sunday afternoon[s],” Grayson said. “Most of my friends do laundry or hang out by the pool. I always tell them while their clothes are drying, they can help us out. It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes.”
Associate Chaplain Bryant Manning said the organization impacts the community as well as the students participating.
“Think about it this way,” Manning said. “Whenever a college student at a liberal arts private school [participates in an activity like this one], it’s an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and talk to someone who has a different life story than them. It’s positive in their own spiritual growth and maturity.”
Kitchen said that before she joined the organization, she had never worked with the homeless before. After volunteering the first time, she had to continue to come back.
“I just figured it’d be cool to try something new,” she said. “Before, I never considered the homeless. They were just there to me. In the back of my mind, I had felt that they were just choosing this, but it’s more complicated than that. A lot of them have jobs, but sometimes, you’re just a couple of paychecks away from being homeless.”
Kitchen said the sandwiches aren’t the best part about the ministry. The conversations she gets to have with some of the homeless are what keep her coming back.
Having conversations is also Grayson’s favorite part. According to him, the more people who attend Sandwich Ministries, the more time the group has to talk to some of the homeless in Munn Park.
“It’s just really awesome to listen to their stories about what they want us to do, you know, make sure you go in the right direction, and so I really enjoy it a lot,” Grayson said. “I remember one fellow started talking about God, and it was great conversation.”
There is no time commitment in order to participate, and no one needs to go pass out the meals. A few volunteers, such as Mackenzie DeRosa, are unable to come to every meeting, so she said it makes it easier on her as well.
“I went out the first time I [volunteered],” DeRosa said. “It was nice to see them treat the homeless population as people. I worked with the homeless shelter before in high school, and there was this stigma that you couldn’t talk to them because it’s dangerous or they’re dirty. They’re less fortunate than us. They’re not less than us.”
DeRosa said she hopes more people will get involved and see that it’s a worthwhile experience to have.
The organization’s numbers have shrunk over the last year, but the group hopes more people will find out about the ministry and get involved.
Grayson said he’s happy whenever someone comes to help. There are some days only four people will show up, which are not the numbers the group hopes to have, but Grayson said he’s staying optimistic about it.
“We know people get busy, so we don’t blame them,” Grayson said. “We’re thankful for anyone who comes by. It’s just such a great organization and the impact we have on the community, it’s amazing.”
This past Sunday, the group saw a spike of 40 volunteers when the activity was listed under passport credit. Each passport participant had to either attend two days of sandwich making or a full day, including passing out the lunches.
Whether there are 40 participants or three, Sandwich Ministries said they will continue to serve the community as long as there is one person in need.
Beyond Campus Ministries goes out to Lakeland
Students of Beyond Campus Ministry held a free concert in the heart of Downtown Lakeland on April 6.
Beyond is a student-lead worship experience where members of the community gather in the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel to enjoy worship songs and a message by FSC students. Each semester, they hold a night of worship, and this time, they decided take the night off campus in the recently opened venue, Lkld Live. Transportation to the venue was provided.
Worship leader Terrance de Avila said he also wanted to incorporate other campus ministries and call the event “One Night.”
“I didn’t exactly like the fact that worship night was just a Beyond thing,” de Avila said. “I wanted it to be all around a campus ministries thing, which is the idea behind ‘One Night.’”
“At the Cross” founders Carley Fischer and Natalie Barton gave a five minute sermon in the middle of the worship set. They spoke about coming together as a community by quoting 1 Corinthians 12:12.
“When I hear this scripture, it makes me think about how people complain about their how hard their major is,” Barton said in her sermon. “Just because our major is somewhat more difficult than others, how does that make us have more value? Why are we more superior to other people because of that? We’re not.”
Barton said we should be actively celebrating for other people’s achievements and also supporting those through their hardships. de Avila said he wanted to focus on community. He said he feels it’s one of the more important aspects of Campus Ministries.
“The cool thing is that everyone involved in campus ministries really cares about everybody,” he said. “Our hope is that anyone can come in this ‘come as you are’ atmosphere. Just be who you are, and our job is to accept that. If we’re not doing that, then we’re not doing a good job.”
de Avila said they had wanted to have the event off campus from the beginning. When they heard about Lkld Live, the group was set on performing there. He said he wanted to bring the whole community together for a night of worship, including residents of Lakeland.
Students held signs designating the way to venue and a few cars stopped by to ask what the event was.
“It was really cool to see that,” sign holder Matthew Johnson said. “It felt like we were having a greater impact on the community rather than just the student body. It was great to see people interested in going.”
During the worship sets, the songs were heard outside of the venue, making it seem for passerby's like a regular concert. But for the students who put on the event and those who attended, it was more than just a concert.
Regular Beyond attendee Mara Lameyer said she loved the feel of One Night. She said coming together in a closed environment allowed her to focus on God.
“It was a cool environment to bring glory to God and recenter myself and make sure my priorities are right and put God first,” Lameyer said.
Lameyer is not the only student who felt this way, Beyond attendee Allison Navarro said the atmosphere was one of her favorite parts of One Night.
“As much as I love going to Beyond on a regular basis,” Navarro said. “This was better because they had a much more rounded sound in this venue, which allowed me to cut out distractions and focus on God.”
Beyond hopes to host One Night in Lkld Live again and continue the theme of community as more Campus Ministries get involved with the event.