Cornerstone University Senior Partners with a Global Initiative Based in West Michigan
by Jordan Grooters (B.A. ’17)
Cornerstone University student Alexa Heeres (B.S.W. ’17) is spending her summer serving women all over the world, without ever leaving West Michigan. Heeres, a social work and spanish student entering her senior year, is working this summer as an intern for Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int'l), a non-profit organization that strives to create circles of protection and hope around at-risk women and children all over the world.
At her internship, Heeres helps with writing articles and blogs for the WAR, Int'l website in order to help WAR, Int'l educate the public about the issues of abuse, trafficking and exploitation around the world. WAR, Int'l works to empower survivors with counseling, job training, hope and dignity. WAR, Int'l has a boutique located in Grandville, Mich., where they sell hand-crafted jewelry and goods made by the women that they serve. This prevents women from entering or re-entering the sex industry. This September, WAR, Int'l plans to open Tea Trade Cafe in Grandville, where trafficking survivors will learn practical job skills.
Heeres says, "WAR Int'l is always in need of volunteers, prayer partners and donations. And buying products from the store is a tangible way to support the women in the programs."
Heeres' passion for helping others isn't limited to her involvement with WAR, Int'l. This past March, Heeres traveled with a group of six Cornerstone students and alum Penny Patterson (CU '68) to volunteer with Kids Alive International in Guatemala during spring break. Kids Alive Guatemala works to rescue and restore victims of sexual and physical abuse. The country of Guatemala struggles with extreme poverty and a variety of social issues. The country also holds a special place in Heeres' heart; her youngest sister is adopted from Guatemala.
Heeres says, "When I am helping people around the world, that is when I feel I am fulfilling my calling. Being the hands and feet of Christ, following Him wherever He leads and seeing His precious people through His eyes—we are all called to that purpose. He is the One Who ultimately saves, restores and heals, but we have the incredible privilege to be used in His plan."
This coming January, Heeres will be starting an internship at Kids Alive International in Guatemala. She will be spending three and a half months at the Oasis site that the group visited during the Global Opportunities trip with Cornerstone. Heeres will use a combination of her Spanish and social work skills to form relationships with the victims while learning from those already serving in the mission field.
Penny Patterson said, "Alexa has such a warm, sensitive heart and it was very evident during the trip that she wanted to return to Oasis for her internship. I am excited to see how God will use her and her gifts to serve the girls and staff in Guatemala."
Heeres says, "While I don't know exactly how this experience will fit in God's plan, I know that it will be a milestone, a key season in my life that He is going to use for an incredible purpose."