By Sue Sprang
MOUNT PLEASANT – Amy Henderson was raised in Shepherd, MI, and was the community’s 2012 Maple Syrup Festival queen. But for those who think small town royalty are sappy, this young woman undoes the beauty queen stereotype. Okay, yes, she is beautiful. She is also smart, aware, community-minded, and non-self-absorbed.
Henderson has been serving as an intern at Immanuel, Mt. Pleasant, via Wesley Methodist Church Campus Ministry at Central Michigan University.
Henderson was baptized in the Methodist Church, but her family quit attending when she was six years old. Ten years later she began attending the Alma First Church of God with a friend.
Once at CMU, Henderson continued going to worship and became involved with campus ministry. She views this involvement and her internship as catalysts to her growth in faith.
“In college my faith has been growing stronger,” said Henderson, who will graduate in 2017. “I feel more drawn to God now than I ever did before – and I think a lot of it is because of the opportunity the internship gave me.”
Henderson’s internship has two parts: Immanuel and the Isabella County Restoration House (ICRH), a rotating homeless shelter with which Immanuel is involved. In both cases, she has put her faith, gifts, and passions to work.
“I was very happy when I heard about the internship because I have always loved working with youth,” she said, “and when I was in high school, my youth group did a lot for me. I was also looking forward to getting to know a new congregation.
“Also, I love volunteering and the ICRH is a great community effort. The internship affects me on a personal level because I am from the area. The opportunity to help people from my community is very important to me.”
One of Henderson’s prime tasks at Immanuel is helping guide weekly “Hot Spots” – theological discussions for high school teens. She is looking forward to attending her first ELCA Youth Gathering this summer.
Henderson’s ICRH work is shared with another intern. They manage the program’s public relations and social media. While the rotating shelter was in season (Oct. – Easter), she visited various churches involved to take pictures, interview volunteers, and get to know the guests.
As for surprises, challenges, and “really cool things”, there have been many. Here is a sampling in Henderson’s own words:
“I was happily surprised at how passionate I quickly became toward the effort of fighting homelessness in the Mt. Pleasant area. It is an important cause that really brings everyone in the community together.”
“I went to the middle school aged Youth Quake and had a blast! When I came back, I decided I definitely wanted to work with youth as much as I could.”
“We had over 1,000 volunteers for the shelter this past year. That number alone speaks to how many people in our community care.”
“It is moving to see guests at the shelter share with one another. People who don’t even know you, or who are in the same place as you, care enough to give you something – even if they themselves don’t have much.”
Henderson’s busy schedule has been a big challenge – internship, a part time job, a double major in French and Music Performance for Voice, and other activities: “My time management skills have become impeccable!”
She thanks Travus Buron, president of the ICRH; Pastor Charlie Sarnum from campus ministry; and Pastor Dana Hendershot from Immanuel and vice president of the ICRH for this opportunity: “This internship has had a positive impact in my life and I look forward to the next few months.”
So where does Henderson think she is headed when she graduates?
“I would love to join the Peace Corps after college and serve,” she said. “From there I would like to either come back to the States and work for a non-profit in my community and join a church, or move to France and teach English.”
Henderson is aware a lot can change in two years.
“I know I love helping people, traveling, and learning,” she said. “With those three things I think whatever I decide to do, it will be a good direction for me. I am very excited for the future!”
Learn more about the ICRH project and Immanuel’s involvement in an earlier article on this site, “The congregation that could.” Find out more about the ICRH at www.icrhouse.org.