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Two graduate student interns help Micah Ecumenical Ministries, Fredericksburg Baptist Church
Bush scrubs the stairwell of a Fredericksburg apartment that Micah Ecumenical Ministries plans to use as a hospice center for the homeless.
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Date published: 4/5/2008
Two Texas graduate students spent this Valentine's Day in Fredericksburg, single and away from their families.
They left their apartment at 4 a.m. and didn't get back until 4 the next morning.
When Sarah Bush and Courtney Chapman signed up to come to Fredericksburg to learn social work, they didn't expect to work 24 straight hours on a holiday.
But Chapman said it was the best Valentine's Day she's ever had.
"Somebody's gonna have to do some great things on Valentine's Day to ever make it better than that one," she said last week.
At 2 a.m., the next morning, she dropped off another group of refugees, snapping their first American family portrait and standing with the family as they prayed thanking God for a safe journey and the blessings of a new home.
Chapman and Sarah Bush spent hours scrubbing, painting and decorating that house for the African newcomers.
The pair have spent four months in Fredericksburg learning to be social workers by becoming bus drivers, house painters, cleaners, photographers, researchers, movers and street sweepers.
"It's been so amazing, I don't feel like it's work," Chapman said. "It's like we get to serve and be a part of this community that's like a family."
They are two of 140 students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, pursuing master's degrees in social work. All are expected to perform semester-long internships, said Diana Garland, dean of the school of social work.
The Baptist university's program of combining faith and professional social work is unique and, therefore, in high demand, Garland said.
"Our students are passionate. They're committed. They work hard. The word is out," she said.
She's been talking with Fredericksburg Baptist Church for about five years about sending interns to the area. Garland's husband once taught the Rev. Larry Haun, the church's pastor, while in seminary in Kentucky. Haun and Garland reconnected when he visited Baylor a few years ago.
One of his ministers, Jeanne Anderson, recognized the potential of social work interns, Haun said. She felt their training would organize the church's energy.
That is the goal of a congregational social worker, Garland said. It's a "specialized form of social work practice" and involves helping churches live their faith.