A year and a half ago, I was celebrating the beginning of Advent in the UKirk basement in the traditional manner – ugly sweaters, smores on the fire, and endless Christmas cookies. Now, eighteen months later, I find myself in almost an entirely different life, working overtime in healthcare and managing grad school in the midst of a pandemic that has left everyone I know, including myself, absolutely drained. Despite Christmas decorations and snow on the ground, it’s hard to find the annual Christmas cheer when all I can imagine is sleeping for twenty-four hours straight and being able to hug my loved ones. But during all of this, as the advent season begins, I am reminded of the goodness I learned so much about during my time at UKirk: all moments are holy if you can seek them out.

My faith was strongly shaped through my years at UKirk. I entered college a freshman who spent her high school years attending youth programming primarily to see my friends, and graduated with a renewed faith rooted deeply within me from years of struggle as well as growth. My faith did not grow solely from services at UKirk, but from the people around me who showed me what it meant to love as Christ loves and serve as Christ serves. The community at the house taught me about how important it is to have people in your life to walk in faith with and encouraged me to join a church and small group when I moved away after graduation. I am who I am today because of UKirk, reminding myself each day to watch in hope for the Lord, to wait and see that the Lord will hear me.

This year has been endlessly difficult for everyone, but especially those who spend their time dedicated to ensuring that college students have a safe place to learn about Christ and grow in their faith. Doors have been closed, events cancelled, and funds diminishing quickly as cases rise, yet the need to serve these students has not dwindled, but rather increased tremendously. This is why I am compelled to give to Ukirk as an alumni of the organization, because some of my fondest memories from college take place in the little house on Melrose avenue. The house was not only a place to study and laugh with friends, but to have a community to lean on when the season gets hard. This season is hard, and I’m giving to UKirk so they can continue that tradition of showing Christlike love to everyone who walks in the doors, as they did for me for five years. As leadership navigates new ways of forming connections, we can give to lift some of the financial burdens from their shoulders. And as always, keeping the community of students, staff, and local churches in our hearts and prayers throughout this advent season.

Malerie Lazar Bolinsky
2019 Alumni