30 Years in 30 Days
In 2021, Seeds of Hope celebrated its 30th year since moving to Texas. (For more about the history of Seeds, click here). To celebrate, we posted photos and testimonies from volunteers, council members, staff members and interns about their experience with Seeds. We also posted photos from anniversaries and other milestones. There was an entry every day for 30 days, so we called it “30 Years in 30 Days.” (We actually kept posting for a few days afterwards as well.) Below are the posts.
Jessica Foumena (now Kempton) came to Seeds, as she writes below, as a Master of International Journalism student. Hailing from Cameroon, she brought a unique perspective to our publications. Her doctoral work at Texas Tech University centered around empowering African womens’ voices through digital storytelling. Based in Chimayo, NM, she now teaches online communications courses at various universities. In 2020, Jessica returned to Seeds as our Africa specialist and has already contributed award-winning work. Here’s what she wrote about her internship at Seeds:
Eight years ago, during my Spring 2013 semester at Baylor University, I completed an editorial internship at Seeds as part of my work for a Master of International Journalism (MIJ) degree from Baylor University. I had no idea how much fun and how educational my internship would be! I think I can safely say this was my favorite internship of all time. Ms. Katie Cook, my field supervisor, listened endlessly to my grandiose ideas about how I would go about changing the world when I graduated. She gave me space and time needed to write articles on poverty, hunger, and my home continent of Africa. Throughout the process, I learned a great deal about all three. I felt so much smarter (!) after writing each article for Seeds, and very proud to know that my thoughts would be read by so many people. I went with Katie on field trips in the Waco, TX, area, where I was able to put faces on what I knew about poverty and hunger in the US. In 2020, my belief in the Seeds mission brought me back to reconnect with Ms. Katie and to volunteer as an editorial team member and Africa specialist for Hunger News & Hope. So glad I did, because I can now claim to be an award-winning writer! (My article, “Covid-19 & Minoritized Populations” was the feature article in the HNH Fall 2020 issue by that name. It won the Associated Church Press Award of Merit for a theme issue.) ~ Jessica Foumena Kempton, Ph.D. (@drjesskempton) (Photo by Raylene Silver.)
Grayson Wolf, a Waco, TX, native, was the Summer 2015 intern at Seeds. As a Religion and English major at Baylor, he was able to work as much on biblical and historical research for the Sacred Seasons worship packets as he did on news stories for Hunger News & Hope. Having graduated from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, MO, he is now working as a public defender in San Joaquin County, CA. Here’s what he wrote about working with Seeds:
I am very grateful for my stint at Seeds of Hope. While there, I witnessed the ever-present needs of the hungry, the poor and the underprivileged. However, service to these people is ever rewarding. The mission of Seeds reinforces my convictions that empathy requires action, that justice demands mercy.
I now work with indigent clients in the criminal justice system, so I have opportunity to reflect on these lessons often. Many of the above societal ills are under a microscope, and it can be overwhelming. However, Seeds of Hope gives me peace as I know that countless others are working to help the needy in countless other capacities.
Thank you to all who have helped make Seeds of Hope happen; it is so very necessary. I would like to part with one final admonition to myself and to others: We must take extra care to not believe ourselves more deserving of grace than are those we serve. (Photo by Katie Cook.)
Chelle Morton (her byline usually says Dawn Michell Michals) is the Social Media Editor for Seeds—and one of the award-winning writers for Hunger News & Hope. Her daughter Izzie is our youngest volunteer. She helps with mailings and other tasks, all done while dancing and singing around the office. Izzie says her favorite things about the office are pink cookies and licorice jelly beans. Chelle has worked for many years with the McLennan County Hunger Coalition and the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition. Here’s what Chelle wrote about working for Seeds:
I’ve been a writer and editor for about 25 years, and I’ve worked with hunger issues for a long time as well, so merging these two things are a perfect fit for me. (Photo by Katie Cook.)
From the time I set foot in Waco in the late summer of 2001 to the time I left in May 2004, I interned, wrote, researched, and learned at Seeds of Hope Publishers. A professor of mine connected me with Katie Cook saying, “Katie’s kindred,” and my professor was definitely right. At Seeds, with Katie as my guide, I learned how to make a pot of coffee (not a task to undermine, ever), how to research a story, how to write a first and second and third draft until you get it right, how to listen, how to show up and explore. My work at Seeds laid the foundation for me to work at Sojourners magazine in Washington, DC, then at food justice nonprofits in Austin, TX, and then to engage graduate studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where I received a Master of Divinity and was ordained as Alliance of Baptist clergy in 2011. Writing has saved my life on more than one occasion, and I’m convinced it’s the writing I learned to craft at Seeds that gave me oxygen and necessary inspiration to follow my call as a pastor, writer, and poet. I currently serve at The Upper Room in Nashville, TN, where daily I help tell their stories in compelling ways. I also write regularly on my blog, www.pastorpoet.com. Throughout the past 17 years, through many jobs, many callings, many ways, Seeds has never once left my resume, serving as the foundation of a bright and bold beginning as a writer and as a pastor.
Ellen Kuniyuki Brown stepped into the position of copy editor for Seeds of Hope serendipitously. She had just completed a volunteer gig and was looking for something else in which to be involved and mentioned it in passing to Katie Cook. The result was being asked if she’d like to try her hand at copy editing for Seeds, to which Ellen replied, smiling, that she was picky. Katie immediately responded, “That’s why I want you!”
Ellen retired from Baylor University after being the archivist in The Texas Collection for 39 years. Her volunteer interests have included being a construction volunteer with Waco Habitat for Humanity, the salad maker at the Gospel Café, a member of the Lake Shore Baptist Church food pantry group, and a “ferret” for the Act Locally Waco e-newsletter. She has edited Waco Heritage & History, proofread text for several books, and served as managing editor for Texas Baptist History: The Journal of the Texas Baptist Historical Society. She says she feels blessed to be involved with Seeds. (Photo by Katie Cook.)
Alyssa Miller (left) and Elizabeth Arnold were Seeds interns in the Spring of 2014. In addition to all of the work they did on publications, they also worked on the highly acclaimed “Chili Challenge & Cupcake Throwdown” fundraiser. They designed and ordered the shirts and mugs in this photo, as well as name tags, signs and thank you letters. We couldn’t have done it without them! (Photo by Ashley Thornton.)
Rev. Alec Ylitalo joined the Sacred Seasons liturgical team in the spring of 2019. Alec was born in Montana and grew up in Longview, TX. After attending Baylor University, he earned a Masters of Divinity from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and then was ordained into the ministry by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He now serves as Senior Minister at Richfield Christian Church in Waco, TX, and is a past president of the Greater Waco Interfaith Council. He has been active for years in supporting local social assistance programs and is a natural fit for our liturgical team. Here’s what he says about working with the liturgical team:
I appreciate working together to create cross-denominational liturgies focusing on the call to serve the least of these. (Photo courtesy of Alec Ylitalo.)
This photo shows the Seeds Council of Stewards celebrating our 23rd anniversary (following a very challenging year) with cake. At this point, Seeds was climbing out of several years of financial struggle and celebrating the fact that we were still here and the resources were still flowing to the people who need them. Ashley Thornton of Act Locally Waco, a former Council member, came to this June 2014 meeting and immortalized a joyful moment. (Clockwise from left: Meg Cullar, Sally Askins, Ed Wainright, Sandy Londos, Deborah Harris, Derek Dodson, Michael Long. Middle with cake: editor Katie Cook. Photo by Ashley Thornton.)
Bill Hughes has been our volunteer librarian since February 2010. He came to us from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). He started by shelving and cataloguing 1,176 books, notebooks, videos and magazines. He then shelved and alphabetized more than 10 year’s worth of periodicals that we keep for reference. Once he finished that, he indexed and organized back issues of Seeds Magazine and Sprouts (1979-1998), Hunger News & Hope and Sacred Seasons—all of which amount to thousands of entries. Then he organized and indexed all of the art that has been created for Seeds since the ministry moved to Texas—more than a thousand pieces. The only drawback about Bill’s assignment here is that he keeps working himself out of a job! (Photo by Katie Cook.)
Christopher Bryan worked at Seeds for two semesters in 1996 as an intern from the Baylor University Interdisciplinary Core. After his internship, he continued as a volunteer for Seeds until he graduated as the highest ranking Arts and Sciences student in his class. He now practices law in Aspen, CO.
Working at Seeds was one of the most life-affirming—and life-changing—experiences I have had. During my college years, in the throes of rapid and dynamic personal and intellectual change, the very real education that I received working with Katie Cook and the Seeds staff shocked and persuaded my soul to awaken from its sleepwalking ways. The Seeds ministry succeeds not only because it contributes invaluable resources in the social justice movement but also because it exemplifies, in everyone who is touched by it, the Christian model of empathy, concern for others and love for fellow humanity. It is not often that I can say that I am a better person because of certain experiences. My internship at Seeds, however, is one of them. (Photo courtesy of Garfield & Hecht, Attorneys at Law in Aspen, CO.)
Below are comments from an Associated Church Press judge, upon selecting Hunger News & Hope for a Best in Class award:
Hunger News & Hope is informative and passionate on a crucial topic. It shows good maneuvering in perilous territory between politics and faith with very effective, accessible reporting. Clear-eyed, but not cynical.
Robert Darden, a professor in Baylor University’s Journalism, Public Relations and New Media department, was a friend of our ministry even before the Waco office was officially open. He drew illustrations for Roots of Hope, our first publication. He created cover art for Seeds when it was a magazine and for Sacred Seasons. He has written thoughtful pieces about the true meaning of Christian social ministry. When he was teaching Professional Writing at Baylor, he sent us our some of our very first interns. In this photo, he is (once again) acting as emcee at one of our fundraisers. Here’s what he wrote:
It occurs to me that I’ve been affiliated with Seeds in one way or another for three decades now…and few realizations give me more pleasure than to know that I’ve been a part (even if an infinitesimal one) of something as worthwhile and courageous as this magazine/organization. Seeds continues to fight the good fight. It is a mission based on the simplest of precepts: While even one of God’s creatures goes to bed hungry, we’re all lessened and we’re all to blame. And through it all, Seeds continues to repeat the message of the Scriptures: we all can—and SHOULD—do something about it.” (Photo by Leslie Rosencrans.)
In the Spring of 2014, Seeds hosted a “Chili Challenge & Cupcake Throwdown” fundraiser. The event was a rousing success, and was enhanced by the Seventh & James youth (known as the James Gang), who acted as hosts. (Photo by Ashley Thornton.)