Senior Rebecca Roe, elementary education major, co-chair of Habitat for Humanity Concordia College chapter and a member of Cru, has been nominated for YWCA’s Woman of the Year Award.
Her community involvement and continued dedication to service will be recognized in YWCA’s annual celebration, held to honor exemplary women and businesses who contribute to their community, on May 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marriott.
Like all those nominated for the Woman of the Year award, it can certainly be said that Rebecca Roe has given back to her community. From being involved in mission trips organized by her church in Maple Grove during junior high, exemplifying leadership in Habitat for Humanity, serving at Emergency Food pantry, teaching children in Rwanda and volunteering with YWCA, Rebecca has journeyed through her life seeking as many opportunities as possible to serve others and gain greater understanding of the struggles the world faces.
Anne Slette, communications coordinator for YWCA, said in an email, “Rebecca’s community involvement is remarkable for her age. As a senior Elementary Education major at Concordia, her service has touched the lives of her peers, local students, and many across the world.”
For Roe, serving the community began at a young age.
“I went on one of my first mission trips when I was in junior high, and that was just in Minneapolis, like half an hour away from my house [in Maple Grove] and since then, taking different steps throughout my life to learn about other people’s lives and other situations, which are so different than the life I grew up in in the suburbs, has really helped me to understand the issues our world faces,” Roe said. “Even though I was 12, I could understand that Minneapolis has a lot of poverty and homelessness. I think that was one of the first experiences that really helped me to realize that I wanted to keep serving other people and become more involved.”
From this church mission trip sprung involvement in the aforementioned array of organizations and service projects and, eventually, Roe’s involvement with YWCA. Looking for an opportunity to learn more about homelessness and the affects it has on students, Roe was advised to volunteer at the YWCA.
Roe said that she spent time volunteering at the YWCA and also taught at Lincoln Elementary in Fargo, where the children from YWCA attend. She volunteered there to learn about the homeless population and how it impacts learning, as well as the effects it has on the lives of children as students. Roe worked in the food pantry once a week and also participated in Study Buddies, the after-school program for children who are residences of the shelter.
This nomination speaks volumes about Roe’s character and community involvement in the same way that the YWCA speaks volumes about the Fargo-Moorhead community and its value for serving one another.
According to Slette, the YWCA Cass Clay is the largest emergency shelter in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota. In 2016, it served 1,375 women and children, many of whom were seeking refuge from domestic violence. Its mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The organization provides a variety of programs and forms of assistance to its residents in order to support their journey to empowerment and independence. YWCA has been serving the Fargo-Moorhead community for over 100 years, giving women and children a safe place to rest and restore peace in a stable, supportive environment. Because the YWCA is sustained by the commitment of volunteers and donors, the organization values community service and involvement highly. This is why YWCA celebrates their Woman of the Year event, to encourage those who give so much back to their community.
“From 1973 to 2016, YWCA has paid tribute to 496 outstanding Women of the Year honorees whose lives, talents and passions have made a meaningful difference,” Slette said. “All have demonstrated passion for their community, service to women and children, and are an inspiration to the next generation of leaders.”
Although Roe’s volunteering has been inspired by her dedication to service, it’s also been a way to fulfill what she believes to be a calling for her life.
“My faith is the biggest reason I do service because I feel called to it in that God doesn’t call us to just live our lives focused on ourselves. He wants us to serve each other and carry each other’s burdens too,” Roe said. “When our neighbors are struggling or when our close friends and family are struggling, we carry their burden with them. No one should be doing this alone.”
Roe plans to continue her community involvement this summer by traveling to Perth, Australia, on a mission trip purposed to spark spiritual movements in local college campuses, but believes it’s important for everyone here on Concordia’s campus to take advantage of the opportunities to serve as she has.
“It’s really important to not live in the ‘Concordia bubble,’ and to understand the amazing things that our community has to serve the people here,” Roe said.