During a 30-day fast that involved limiting consumption of food, social media and money, church members at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. were asked to abstain from unnecessary purchases and, at the end of the month, consider donating the money they had saved to a charitable cause. The interesting thing is they did not know what the charitable cause would be. The Rev. Marc Lavarin and church leaders said the money would go to a worthy recipient and it turned out that donation was used to clear the debt of 34 students at Howard University. The university chose full-time students with a grade-point average of 2.0 or higher who demonstrated significant financial need, with balances from $100 to more than $3,000, said Crystal Brown, Howard’s vice president of communications.
Why Howard? Rev. Lavarin said the idea of donating to Howard — among the nation’s leading historically black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs — came to him during prayer. “I thought, ‘What better way to celebrate Black History Month than investing in the young, black heroes of HBCUs?’ ” he said. Alfred Street Baptist Church has a long-standing relationship with HBCUs. About 60 percent of its congregants attended an HBCU, and the church hosts a festival for prospective HBCU students each year. But in addition to the gift to Howard, the church donated $50,000 to Bennett College in North Carolina, one of two remaining women-only historically black colleges and universities that was in danger of losing accreditation.
One of the students who benefited from this generosity at Howard University was Mya Thompson, a 25-year-old senior is enrolled in seven classes at Howard University, who doesn’t get much sleep. Some days, she has class from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with only enough time to pick up her 6-year-old son, Ma’Khi, from school and to eat before her overnight shift as a dispatcher for D.C. 911 emergency services. She has to choose between eating, sleeping or studying during her limited breaks. She arrives home before dawn — 5 a.m., maybe 6 a.m., depending on how busy work is — and sleeps for a few hours before repeating the routine. And with all of this she wasn’t able to keep up with the payments, even with social assistance and help from family and friends she was falling behind, owing $2,500 by the time the gift from the church came into her life.
Now? This hard working mother has a chance to continue her education without worrying about not being able to afford the tuition. She can focus on feeding herself and her son and improving their lot in life. This Church community who came together to give what they could have changed the lives of more than the 34 students; it also changed things for everyone in those students lives. This is the impact a community can have when it chooses to help those in need instead of ignore them. With love and God’s grace we can build a better world one small act at a time.
If you would like to know more about this particular act you can find more in your Good News Story of the Day here.
Image and Story from the Philadelphia Tribune.