Three Hillsdale College students are receiving rent-free housing thanks to Hillsdale Free Methodist Church.
Senior Rebecca Huff and juniors Brooke Conrad and Regan Lasch volunteer at the church for five hours a week. In exchange, they receive housing on church property in a little house called the North House.
This church program, which has been running for over a decade, is open to Hillsdale College students who commit to completing the required service hours.
“The program is a win-win for everyone,” said Rev. Keith Porter, the senior pastor at the church. “We get the house looked after by responsible students and get help with ministry while the students get free housing.”
Students in the program typically attend service at Free Methodist, but it is not a requirement. Lasch and Conrad both attend Free Methodist while Huff attends a different church.
“We just look for people who have ministry in their hearts,” Porter said. “They don’t need to be working at our service on Sunday morning. They can do mission work in different ways.”
Lasch and Huff both look after children in the church’s nursery on Wednesdays during an adult Bible study session.
“It’s cool living here because we have a stronger connection to the church now,” Lasch said. “It has helped me get to know so many members of the church that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s been a great way to get plugged-in to the church.”
Conrad helps lead worship on Sunday morning and accompanies the organ on piano.
“It’s been nice to play and get to know more members of the church,” Conrad said. “I also think the church appreciates that students are getting more involved.”
Porter said some past participants in the program have chosen to volunteer at their current churches.
“We have at least a half-dozen former residents that have continued to do mission work,” Porter said. “I think the residents just find a home within the church. They want to maintain the connection that mission offers.”
Students who are interested in this opportunity should speak with Porter at the church. However, the program will not take in any new students soon, because the current residents of the house plan on staying for the 2018-2019 school year.
Porter said he selects students students with “a passion for ministry– students who are not only in the program for the free housing.”
While free housing is only a part of what the program offers students, it will continue to be an attractive incentive for students.
“My dad was super excited when he found out he didn’t have to pay for rent,” Conrad said. “It saves a ton of money.”