One of the most impoverished towns in the nation is Pembroke, Ill., only 20 miles from Bourbonnais and Kankakee.
Pembroke doesn’t have a high school or a police department. When students in an Olivet social work class did an assessment of Pembroke Township during the spring 2013 semester, they found that more than half of the surveyed population made less than $25,000 a year.
The people of Pembroke are living in poverty and need hope. Olivet students are teaming up with members of the community to serve them.
Students and community coming together
On Saturday, September 14, CSL Behring — a global industry with a location in Bradley, Ill. — hosted its 60th anniversary celebration. The company challenged students involved with Olivet’s Compassionate Ministries to provide 150 volunteers for the event. If the students accomplished this, the company agreed to donate $5,200 toward the completion of the library and a child development program in Pembroke.
Compassionate Ministries was able to supply more than 180 volunteers that day.
Long-term mission and purpose
“We are all impoverished and broken people,” says Katie Reed, a sophomore majoring in social work and double minoring in not-for-profit management and intercultural studies. “We need to help develop the Pembroke community. Equip them, love them and disciple them.”
Katie and her sister, Becca Reed — a senior majoring in corporate communication with a business minor — co-lead Compassionate Ministries, a campus organization that is part of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. The Reed sisters are instrumental in organizing relief efforts and spreading their desire to help those in Pembroke.
They grew up as missionary children in Africa. Their hometown is Nairobi, Kenya, in East Africa. From a young age, they both found a passion for helping others.
While short-term volunteers and missions trips are very beneficial, the Reed sisters have seen many come to Africa and only give money. They see the necessity in educating those who are being served.
The Reed sisters are ready to serve Pembroke as long as God tells them to do that. In fact, they recently made a proposal to the regional director of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries for funding and have secured $5,000 to benefit Pembroke.
“We are doing this so we can eventually step away from Pembroke. We want to build up the people who live there so they can do this themselves,” Becca says.
Dr. Houston Thompson, Olivet’s new dean of the School of Professional Studies and former chair of the Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice, has supported Becca, Katie and other students in their service.
"The Pembroke community is full of possibilities and opportunities,” Dr. Thompson says. “The community engagement by Olivet students is focused on identifying the strengths in the community and coming alongside Pembroke residents to bring those possibilities and opportunities to life.”