An on-campus club allows middle school girls in Bradley County to engage in fellowship and receive guidance on life, friends and faith from female college students.
Life 423 is a service club made up of female Lee students. Club members visit Bradley County middle schools every week, where they spend time with the girls, provide snacks, play games, journal together and have a Bible study.
Life 423 was started several years ago by Secretary to the Director of Global Perspectives and Lee alumna Amy Beth Gardner.
Gardner started out volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club but eventually ended up at Ocoee Middle School wanting to directly mentor a girl in need.
Gardner invited friends to go with her the next week, and as students continued to join her, the group became Starlight Ministry, later renamed Life 423.
Senior public relations major and Life 423 Vice President Hannah DeVine has been involved in the club since her freshman year.
According to DeVine, while she loves her event planning responsibilities, one of her favorite aspects of the club is seeing the difference she can make in the girls’ lives.
“I was longing for a place to get plugged into that was service based,” DeVine said. “I have already had a passion for discipleship and had developed a passion to reach middle schoolers. [These are] some of the most foundational years of their lives, and we have the chance to make an eternal impact on them before they even reach the high school level.”
Professor of Psychology and Human Development Dr. Susan Ashcraft believes that mentoring is important in a young girl’s life, and it can also have a beneficial impact on the mentors themselves.
“For the college girl, she is not that far removed from being in middle school herself, so she is closer to that frame of reference and remembering what that was like to be at that stage,” Ashcraft said. “The challenges that she dealt with might be more common for the middle schooler than an adult who is, say, 30 years older. I think the middle school girl is looking to be an adult, looking to be a young woman of influence, and so the college-aged girl fills that spot for them.”
Members visit three different middle schools in the Bradley County area. Senior psychology major Hannah Morris is the leader of the Ocoee Middle School group, the largest group, made up of 13 mentors and 20-30 mentees on any given week.
Like DeVine, Morris has been in the group since her freshman year.
“Somebody brought me to a meeting, and then, from freshman year to senior year, it has just stuck with me,” Morris said. “It has pulled my heart every way, and I went from being a member to a leader over a school to taking on different roles. It has really changed my heart.”
For more information on Life 423 and how to get involved, contact Hannah DeVine at firstname.lastname@example.org.