Students led by English teacher James Phillips make effort to help those in need at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission


Students lead by English teacher James Phillips commute to downtown Kalamazoo periodically in order to help serve free meals to those in need.

Ashna Mehra, Opinion Editor

The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission is a religious non-profit center for people in the Kalamazoo area to receive help. Students and staff from our school have joined efforts together to create a group that volunteers at the Gospel Mission and provides their services to those in need.

English teacher James Phillips puts great pride into leading the Gospel Mission group here at PC. Phillips began volunteering at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission when he was in high school at Portage Central, and continues to volunteer as a teacher.

“One of the things I add to my overall teacher evaluation is giving students this opportunity to serve as part of a school improvement group that facilitates opportunities for students to get into community service,” he said. “This was just my way of doing it because it was something that I was already involved in.”

The message that the Gospel Mission sends has affected Phillips in an immediate way and has helped shape his life. Phillips believes that helping someone is a small task that can go a long way.

“It stuck with me just how close we live to this place, and yet how different it is from here,” he said. “You don’t really see that many people in need in Portage, but there are so many people in need just five miles down the road.”

The students in the Gospel Mission at school including Joseph Coleman go to the shelter to serve lunchtime meals, help with donations and prep meals for the next day.

“My favorite part about it was the gratitude that these people showed, and just how happy they were,” Coleman said. “People like them who have so little find so much appreciation in the small things that we do.”

To both Philips and the students, the feeling of helping is one that brings indescribable joy.

“It feels good to serve,” Phillips said. “I think a lot about if I were in their position, then I would need the help. I also think about how I’m able to help them. I have the time – I can definitely do one Saturday a quarter to just go down for two hours and help people.

The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission is an inspiring group that has helped hundreds of people in our community.

“Their main goal is to just get people back on their feet,” Phillips said. “And I am very proud of the students who take time out of their schedule to do it.”