Good Neighbor Club Tours Serrano Village
By Zane Ewton
One of the newest student clubs on campus has wasted no time digging into its purpose.
For their third meeting since forming, the dozen members of the Good Neighbor Club toured facilities at Serrano Village – an apartment complex less than one mile from GCU. The club plans to provide ESL training and other outreach efforts to more than 560 refugees living in the apartments.
“We’re not interested in sitting around the classroom and chatting about service,” says COLA faculty member Ryan Taylor. The club includes several freshman Christian studies majors who see this as an opportunity for outreach experience.
“I’m very excited for us to devote our time and learn from some amazing people,” says Stephen Hartt. “We just want to listen to what God is saying to us and where He wants to direct us.”
Croatian-born Georgia Sepic immigrated to the United States in 1985. She is the owner and manager of Serrano Village, and refugee outreach is a passion of hers.
The apartments house refugees from more than 12 countries, including Iraq, Tanzania, Kenya and Bhutan. The majority of tenants were born in Burma.
According to Jeff Jackson, senior pastor of Cross-Connection International Fellowship, Serrano Village provides “innovative” housing. Not only does it house the refugee families, it provides the resources for refugees to meet certain demands.
“ESL is a priority for refugees,” Jackson says. “They are required to learn English and become self-sufficient. The demands to do that are great, and the need for help is even greater.”
Jackson says the U.S. accepts about 80,000 refugees a year. Phoenix has become a hub for refugees because of its housing costs, job possibilities and weather.
Sepic brings in volunteers to help in all manner of skills, teaching them everything from how to write a check to how to start a small business.
The opportunities for GCU students of any academic pursuit to volunteer are wide open.
“We’re going to talk to all our friends,” says freshman communications major Kendra Coil. “We have to spread the word on this to all our friends across the University.”
Gary DeVelder of Bounding Service provides many of the ESL resources to Sepic. His goal is to teach English and other skills so well that the students can go on and teach the next person.
“Our teaching is one-on-one,” he says. “We are able to develop relationships as we teach. If you want to develop a relationship with a new friend, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”
“They don’t need our stuff. They need us.”
For more information on the Good Neighbor Club and Serrano Village, contact Jonathan Sharpe at 602.639.6746 or [email protected]
Contact Zane Ewton at 602.639.7086 or [email protected].