In Huntington and beyond, Huntington University alums are using their particular talents and callingsto minister to vulnerable and unrepresented children of God.
Kayla Lane – Studio 852
Studio 852, LLC, which specializes in graphic design, website development and photography, is more than just a business to Kayla Lane (2015). Even the name she chose for her company reflects her strong sense of family and legacy. The 852 and company logo, an anchor, reference a ship named after Lane’s uncle and honor her grandmother.
“The 852, we kind of joke, is like our family code, and I just knew that that ship was one of her favorite things,” Lane said. Her grandmother was one of her “biggest fans.”
“It was my way of just honoring her when she passed away.”
Now that Studio 852 is over two years old, Lane is looking forward to transitioning from corporate ventures to narratives and humanitarian projects. The company has been giving back to humanitarian organizations already, particularly through t-shirt designs.
The plan is simple yet effective. For certain humanitarian projects Studio 852 completes, they also design a t-shirt that incorporates the theme of the project with the Studio 852 logo.
Recently, for example, designers entwined Studio 852’s anchor with the breast cancer awareness ribbon. Proceeds from t-shirts go to the family or non-profit they portray.
In addition to t-shirts, Studio 852 is planning productions that tell stories non-traditional audiences can enjoy. One project will depict a young girl learning piano using braille on the keys, for instance. Lane is adamant that storytelling should be for everyone.
“The fact that people can’t enjoy [some media] because it’s not made for them – it hurts. I watched the Wizard of Oz, and that’s what made me want to be in film and TV. If I didn’t relate to Dorothy, how would have that changed my career and where I was going?”
Rachel Heneveld – Safe Families for Children
When parents are struggling to provide a safe environment in the home, sending their children to foster care is a devastating, but sometimes unavoidable, threat. Safe Families for Children, a Christian ministry based out of Chicago, seeks to provide a biblically-driven alternative to foster care. Parents who participate in Safe Families elect to give their children to one of the organization’s carefully vetted host families for as long as it takes them to get back on their feet. The goal of Safe Families is to intervene in chaotic situations before they become unsafe for children.
Rachel Heneveld (2013) and her husband are a Safe Families host family in Fort Wayne. In the year since they became certified hosts, they have hosted approximately 14 children, none for more than two weeks at a time.
Heneveld said one of her favorite aspects of being a host parent is getting the opportunity to share Jesus with children who may never have heard about God’s love before. Telling Bible stories and talking about God made an impact on the first siblings the Henevelds hosted.
“It was super fun to hear the kids when they were playing among themselves with their stuffed animals, acting out the stories and telling them again,” Heneveld said. “That was so rewarding to know that, even though we only had them for a short time, those stories were sticking, and we were able to tell them the truth about Jesus.”
Sharon Metzger – Place of Grace
Sharon Metzger (2010) graduated from Huntington University with only a vague sense of what she wanted to do with her career life.
“Once I graduated, my husband and I decided to stay in Huntington to invest in the community,” Metzger said. “I’ve only worked in non-profits, not really on purpose but because that’s where I had connections.”
Now, she sees that God led her to from one connection to another until she ended up in her current position as executive director of Place of Grace, a non-profit ministry for women transitioning out of prison.
“I’ve always been passionate about empowering women and about justice in general,” Metzger said. “That came from my time at Huntington.”
Metzger, along with a staff of six, interacts directly with the women who live at Place of Grace. She is also responsible for community outreach, arranging funding, and working with the board of directors.
Place of Grace welcomed its first resident in February 2017. The house can support up to 10 women at a time, and women will typically stay between six months and a year.
Although her current job is beyond anything she would have imagined several years ago, Metzger is confident she is supposed to be at Place of Grace. The women she works with have made an impact on her that she will appreciate for years to come.
“We get a front-row seat to seeing some of the most beautiful change and transformation in others’ lives,” Metzger said. “I get to see, every day, change happen.”
The road to change is not always easy or glamorous, but the joy of seeing transformed lives is worth the struggle.
“I wouldn’t choose to surround myself with anyone else, really.”
Ryan Taylor – Network Coffee Shop
Ryan Taylor (2001), executive director of Network Coffee House and pastor of St. James Urban Church, spends time each week on the first floor of a small Victorian home in Denver, Colorado, talking and laughing with some of the city’s most marginalized men and women – the homeless. At Network, Taylor and other shift directors create space for redemptive relationships that restore the dignity of those who often feel neglected or dehumanized by providing a hangout space as well as necessities like a shower guests can sign up to use. At the heart of it all is a love for Christ.
“My hope is for this to be a hub of spiritual formation,” Taylor said.
Taylor first heard about Network several years after moving to Denver to attend seminary. He knew God was calling him to move beyond the theology he read about in books to be the love of Christ in the lives of others. At first, he thought God was calling him to move to New Orleans, but he and his wife soon realized they needed to start by getting to know the people in their own backyard.
From that point, there was no turning back, and he is glad for the experiences he has had at Network. Getting to know men and women who are often outcasts has helped him recognize the humanity in all of us.
“There are no levels of superior and inferior in society – we’re all walking the same earth,” he said.