Mission of Hope Presents New Light on Poverty

Jun. 4, 2010 By Jenna Bartlo

Capturing the transformative work of KidWorks, the Santa Ana based non-profit, Biola University journalism students published their first book “Mission of Hope.” Six students spent three weeks intensively documenting how KidWorks, a non-profit organization in Santa Ana, is transforming lives of children in a gang-ridden and troubled neighborhood.

After many interviews, deadlines and hours of editing, the work of alumna Michelle Rindels (’09) and Karla Vasquez (’09), senior Christina Schantz, Kelli Shiroma, Madyson John and junior Katherine Smith, was published in March of 2010. Biola’s journalism department is the first undergraduate department at Biola to publish a book solely written by students.

Seeing how the journalism program has trained students to write well and meet quick deadlines, Michael Longinow, journalism department chair, wanted to provide a project to give advanced writers an outlet to use their reporting and investigating skills for a book-length project.

“I decided to be involved with the book project because I wanted to gain additional experience in writing, “ said Shiroma. “My favorite moment was interviewing some of the families involved with KidWorks.”

The writers addressed poverty in a hopeful light as they focused on the efforts being made to solve the problems in Santa Ana.

“The topic of the book was poverty in Santa Ana- but not from the dark side,” said Longinow. “Hope, like a light in the shadows, can be a tool in God’s hands to guide otherwise hopeless people into believing that their efforts toward reaching goals are attainable.”

Mission of Hope focuses on the efforts of KidWorks since Biola alumnus Larry Acosta founded the organization after seeing how the inner city youth had negative influences because of gang-related problems. The youth lacked positive leadership and fellowship, which moved Acosta to transform the at-risk neighborhoods through education, character formation and personal development.

“It was really neat to talk to both the parents and children and witness how Kidworks changed their lives,” said Shiroma. “It was also really inspiring to interview the individuals in leadership positions at KidWorks. They have such a heart for what they do, and they really want to make a difference in the lives of these families.”

Rindels documented the process of writing the book on her blog, providing insight to the ambitious project. She writes about her interactions at the center with the youth and KidWorks staff members.

“I want this book to be something people want to read,” Rindels wrote. “I want to tell the story with the eloquence it deserves.”

Students working on the project wanted the book to be a success so that readers would be impacted to make differences in other people’s lives. The story was told and captured well, which lead the KidWorks director to order 100 copies for their board members and benefactors.

A second book about Skid Row will be published this summer. The topic of homelessness in the 21 century takes a look at what mission agencies are doing to help the poor. The Union Rescue Mission, a place started by Biola founder Lyman Stewart, is one of the prominent mission centers highlighted in the book.

“We praise God for the ways He is prospering the work of our students' hands and using their compassionate journalism to tell stories of hardship that are so important for readers in Southern California — whether they recognize God's hand at work or not — need to see and understand as we together seek solutions that help the helpless in our midst,” said Longinow.

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Biola University is a private Christian university located in Southern California on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties in the city of La Mirada. For over 100 years, Biola has remained committed to its biblical foundation, integrating biblical principles with every academic program. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Biola as a “National University,” which is considered the “major leagues” of higher education. In addition to its focus on intentional spiritual development and career preparation, Biola offers a unique academic environment where all faculty, staff and students are professing Christians. With over 145 academic programs in six schools, Biola offers degrees ranging from B.A. to Ph.D. For more information, visit www.biola.edu or call (562) 777 – 4061.


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