Reality Church Offers a Second Home to Pacific Tigers
Going away to college can be exciting. There are new friends, new opportunities and experiences, and a whole new way of life! However, it can also be a scary thing to encounter. There may be plenty of potential friends, but what about those friends back at home? What about family members who are cities, states, or even countries away? Making that adjustment can be hard but thankfully there are kind, friendly people who are willing to help make that transition a little easier and a lot less lonely.
In January of 2018, the Reality Church of Stockton opened their Adopt-a-Tiger program to connect Pacific students with families of the church. It was created with college students in mind, intending to provide a second home and an escape from college life to Tigers who need it.
“I had noticed a divide between older adults (post-college) in the church and the students who attend,” says Deacon Lauren McDermott, a Pacific alumna. “I wanted to find a way to help students connect with the other generations of the church, and also to help them feel they belonged and were a meaningful part of our community.” With college students making up almost a third of the Reality Church community, this divide is not easily missed. By having a type of mentoring program, the church could become more connected and learn from each other through this bond. There are currently seven students and six host families participating in this program.
So far, McDermott has seen the Adopt-a-Tiger program do extraordinary things. Aside from forming strong bonds with other members of the church, many hosts and student participants were able to add back in parts of their lives that they had been missing. One student who missed being around young children got matched with a family who loved having a helping hand with the kids. Another duo grew together through sharing their experiences and life perspectives found through difficult times in life. The program has provided students a space to feel comfortable and reach out for help when they needed it.
One of the Tigers participating in the Adopt-a-Tiger program, Allyson Chan, Pre-Pharmacy ‘23, feels that it is a great way to become more connected in the community and in the church. Although she does also participate in a community group through Reality, the Adopt-a-Tiger program has helped her come out of her comfort zone and connect with more people.
“It is nice to talk to and get to know church people outside of the physical church building and to build relationships that way,” Chan shares. Being relatively new to the program, she has not had as many opportunities to spend time with her host family but she has already bonded with her “Tiger mom” and the other student who shares the family with her over their passion for the health field. Chan and her Adopt-a-Tiger family spend time together at lunch after church and sometimes she gets a lunch delivery from her Tiger mom on campus! She encourages any Pacific student interested in joining the program to go for it because “it’s fun and gives you the opportunity to meet new people.”
McDermott emphasizes the importance of being open to off-campus extracurriculars to take a break from college life and be exposed to a wider variety of people and experiences.
“Adopt-a-Tiger is an opportunity to connect with a local family of people who want to welcome and support you,” she states. “Don’t miss out!” It is easy to sign up on the church’s website (realitystockton.com) and there are no extra requirements. Student participants are not required to have their own ride to church or to be attending for an extended period of time. Although the Reality Church of Stockton is a Christian nondenominational church, students do not need to be Christian to participate in the program. For those who are curious about joining and would like to check things out first, there is a group of Pacific students that meets across from the mailroom on campus every Sunday at 10AM to carpool to the church.
For families, couples, or any member of the church who want to adopt a Tiger, sign-ups are also online. Hosts must also be active members of the church and reach out to their Tigers at least once a month. It is a great way to help Pacific students feel like they belong here in Stockton. For church members who have some love to spare and for students who need a home away from home, the Adopt-a-Tiger program is a perfect way create special ties in the community.
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