Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 25, 2013

College kids to help with new ministry

Local nonprofits launching K-Serve by this summer.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— College students from Michigan and Illinois will use their spring breaks to help with work for a new Kokomo ministry.

Students from Michigan State University and Western Illinois University will start renovations on a Walnut Street home that will soon serve as living quarters for other college students doing missionary work in Kokomo.

Kokomo Urban Outreach and Bridges Outreach are hoping to launch the K-Serve internship program by June.

K-Serve will train people from across the country in urban ministries.

Bridges Outreach Co-founder Travis Taflinger said not many people in the area know how to do that work.

“We thought it would be cool to start bringing in college kids and equip them for the work,” he said. “It would be a leadership incubator. It would be focused on sociology, poverty and urban life.”

It’s modeled after similar ministries in Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Students will pay to come spend either 10 weeks or nine months in Kokomo to do mission work and gain experience for their careers or find their true calling, Taflinger said.

The summer program will focus on youth ministry. Students in the program will work with children at Bridges Outreach and Kokomo Urban Outreach.

The nine-month program that will run from Memorial Day to Labor Day will be tailored to the students participating in it.

“If it was a nurse, we’d get them in a hospital,” he said. “If it was a teacher, we’d get them in a school.”

The students will volunteer 30 hours per week at that site.

They will also spend time developing the neighborhood around the house they’ll live in, Taflinger said.

The Walnut Street home was donated to Kokomo Urban Outreach and Bridges Outreach by a local church.

It’s 7,000 square feet and more than 100 years old, and it hasn’t been occupied for three years, said Pam Grohman, administrative assistant at Kokomo Urban Outreach.

The home needs to be renovated before K-Serve can be launched, she said.

That’s where the students from Michigan State and Western Illinois come in.

Over the next few weeks, the students will spend time in Kokomo working on the house. They will clean out the home, remove carpet and wallpaper and make sure the walls are ready to be painted, Grohman said.

Taflinger said their help is a huge blessing. The two local not-for-profits are hoping to have the house ready for the first summer session in June.

“It would take forever for a few people to do the work,” he said. “Now we’ll be able to see a lot of progress quickly.”

Taflinger said he is excited about the new venture. The work the K-Serve interns will do will benefit the community.

But the experiences will benefit the interns.

“We want them to be stronger, better,” he said. “We want to simplify their lives, get them away from material things.”