In her volunteer work with Hamilton-based Paradise Bound Ministries, Julie Van Oordt, a teacher at Allendale Christian School, learned of a student in Guatemala named Jenri who was in need of a Cochlear implant. Julie and her daughter put together a team to bring Jenri to the U.S. for the much-needed surgery. Julie's family hosted Jenri while he was in Michigan, and he attended Allendale Christian School tuition-free.
"Having Jenri come was a tremendous experience for our family," says Julie. "It was a way that we could show the love of Jesus in a very tangible way."
A former Hope College classmate of Julie's, Dr. Michael Disher of South Bend, Indiana and Dr. Tina Sheehan, an audiologist from South Bend, helped to secure the implant for free from Advanced Bionics, a company that creates Cochlear implants.
Lifestream Church in Allendale raised over $15,000 to help with Jenri's flights and ongoing therapy and equipment needs. While in Michigan, Jenri formed lasting friendships with the students at Allendale Christian.
This initiative epitomizes the Doing More. Together. program, an effort that partners Ottawa area schools with companies and organizations across the region to showcase the high quality education taking place and the value schools bring to their communities.
"Jenri was a joy to have at and around school. He was always happy and he always brought a smile to my face," says Kennedy, a 9th-grade student who attended Allendale Christian School last year. "He showed me joy even with all the things he was going through."
Last June, Jenri was visited by a group of Allendale Christian teachers and 8th-grade students who traveled to Guatemala. On the visit, the group built houses and worked in medical clinics.
"It was so exciting to be a part of a life that has been changed," says Julie. "The day the audiologist said that his hearing was at 100% is a day that I will never forget."
The students and teachers at Allendale Christian School continue to pray for Jenri now that he is home. Jenri takes the students' pictures to school with him every day in his backpack. Jenri's mom says that he is now doing very well in school, and misses his friends at Allendale Christian.
“The ranch has opened up such creativity for our teachers. We can start to think of different ideas for putting our curriculum into practice. Teachers kind of get to be kids again!” —Danielle Snoeyink, Rose Park Elementary School Teacher
“Volunteering honors Martin Luther King Jr. because he said anybody can be great because anybody can serve. It show our part by serving the community.” —Evan, GHAPS student