Foresters on the Front Lines

The call came just moments after she had received the sad news from her doctor. She answered the phone to hear a "Hello" and "How are you doing today?" It was an unexpected thank you call from a Huntington University student.

She told him how she was. Not well. Concerned. He listened as she poured out her heart.

"That's the stuff that you can't take credit for," said Vince Haupert, vice president for advancement at HU. "You just say, 'Glory to God.'"

This student, like eight others, is a member of the newly created Front Line Foresters, Huntington's newest student ambassador program.

The purpose of the program is to provide student liaisons for donors and friends of the university. But in a few short months, it's become so much more.
"It has gone way beyond my expectations," Haupert said. "These students are ministering to people and that's way more important than raising money."

The inaugural group of Front Line Foresters consists of junior Kyle Geiss, senior Lance Wood, junior Will Stauffer, sophomore Becca Perhai, junior James Parker, sophomore Antonio Castillo, junior Jake Essig and sophomore Brian Menzie.

Recommended by faculty, these students embody some of the best and brightest that Huntington has to offer. They represent the university at Foundation Breakfasts, Prayer Ministry luncheons, Homecoming & Family Weekend events and Board of Trustees meetings. They also show appreciation to donors through thank you calls and letters.

"We want this to be an experience that is beneficial to the students and also moves the university forward in our fundraising and promotional efforts," Haupert said.

The students are gaining leadership experience and building character while also filling an important need for the university.

"When people ask me about it, I tell them it's a great job," said Perhai, a Front Line Forester.

And on a personal level, it's allowing the students to individually thank donors who have made a difference in their lives.

"I tell them it's not just money for us; it's opportunities for us," said Wood, a Front Line Forester. "Some of these people, they are the reason that I'm here."

Right now the program includes nine students, but Haupert hopes to grow it next year, particularly because of financial support from donors who would like to see it succeed.

"Once I became a part of the program, I realized how amazing it was," Perhai said. "I definitely want to be involved in this again."