Cookie Minister

Ed Grattan
Kathy Meendering bakes treats for NWC Bible study groups on a weekly basis.

Once a week, Kathy (Bonnecroy ’73) Meendering spends an afternoon in her kitchen baking 15 dozen cookies for Northwestern students.

“I call it my cookie ministry,” she says. “Kids are more likely to come to campus events if food is involved.”

The events Meendering wants students to attend have a spiritual focus: discipleship group meetings in the dorms or Bible studies led by resident assistants or NWC coaches.

The Orange City resident began giving away cookies in 2007—the same year she started working as a checker in Northwestern’s cafeteria. Her church was encouraging members to support local college students, and Meendering signed up to donate a dozen cookies. Then she found out the recipient planned to use them for his Bible study.

“That just touched me,” she recalls, “and I figured there had to be more kids who would enjoy having cookies for their discipleship groups.”

Word of mouth quickly had Meendering fielding more requests. Now she rotates recipients, distributing cookies to each group once a month. Often tucked in with the cookies is a note from Meendering saying she’s thinking about and praying for the students.

“I’m just trying to be an encourager,” she says. “It’s a way to touch some lives.”

By Anita Cirulis with Katlyn Kraayenbrink ’10


Ed Grattan
Donna Bunce founded and directs Compassionate Hearts Ministry, which provides a sense of belonging for youth with disabilities in the Zeeland, Mich., area.

On a Tuesday afternoon in a rec room in Zeeland, Mich., batteries are in big demand. Jamie, a tall, husky teenager in a sleeveless shirt, revives his remote and sends the virtual bowling ball toward the remaining pins. Blake, who’s new, had Jamie show him around, and of course the tour ended here, near the PlayStations, Wii and air hockey.

“He’s a game-meister,” says Jamie’s mom. “People come to him, so he’s talking all the time, whereas normally he’s just home alone.”

Jamie admits he’s “Mr. Popular” here at Compassionate Heart Ministry, an after-school program for youth with disabilities. Donna (Heerspink ’84) Bunce began the ministry in 2007 when she saw that her son Jacob, who is mentally impaired, lacked a typical social life.

“They’re left out of everything,” Bunce says. “And now they feel like they’ve got their own private place.”

It’s a place filled with games, guitars, crafts and kids on cell phones bragging they’re “at this club I joined.”

“Other parts of the community might think these kids are the broken ones,” says Bunce, who’s just traded a new stash of batteries for a hug. “But when I look at them, I think they’re the ones who get it.”

by Amy Scheer


Ed Grattan
New York City-based actor Kris Kling has earned credits on stage and in film and TV.

Kris Kling ’97 is modest about his accomplishments, but not every actor can say he’s appeared on the big screen at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival.

“It was cool to hear something I did is getting good exposure and recognition,” he says.

The film is Mystery Team, a dark comedy about amateur sleuths solving a crime way out of their league. The film was well-received at the festival and earned Kling another line on his profile, a public—and highly selective—database for commercially produced TV shows and films.

Mystery Team wasn’t Kling’s first film (he has appeared in a handful of shorts and one other feature-length film), but he says the process was a great learning experience—especially for an actor more accustomed to theatre.

“I’ve been on stage since I was four,” says Kling, who studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and earned rave reviews for his 2008 performance as a British officer in Storm Theatre’s The Shaughraun.

“I’ve had a lot less experience on film, so I don’t have the technique and comfort that people learn from doing it for years and years. But it comes down to the same thing: Use your body, voice, intellect, emotions, instinct, imagination and spirit to tell the story the best way you can.”

by Sarah Asp Olson ’03

Artful Poet

Ed Grattan
Ryan Pendell, a May graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has already published his first book of poetry.

Ryan Pendell ’07 is an artist, but his work lines bookshelves rather than gallery walls. In fact, most of the time he picks up a pen, it’s not to draw but to create poetry.

This spring Pendell graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) with a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing. It was art that drew him there. “Other creative writing programs are attached to English departments, whereas we do creative writing inside an art school,” he says. “It’s a different angle.”

A philosophy major at NWC, Pendell also studied art and creative writing. “By the end of my degree, I knew my interest was at the intersection of these subjects,” he says. “Poetry explores ideas and beliefs in a way that allows me to infuse philosophy, emotion and language.”

His first book—Say to These Bones: Live!, published by SAIC’s Ice Box Press—is a short collection of work demonstrating his passion for these connections.

“The poems all deal in some way with the question of resurrection,” says Pendell, who wrote them over six years. “There was a thematic unity I didn’t notice until I was putting the manuscript together.”

While Pendell hopes to write more books, he says publication isn’t what makes him a poet.

“The defining mark is loving to play around and tinker with words,” he says. “That’s when you know you’ll be a poet the rest of your life.”

by Emily Hennager ’06

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