Meeting a Purple Heart Recipient

One of the many reasons why I love my job is that I get to meet incredible people. A couple weeks ago, I was making the latest content calendar for #CCUSocialMedia when I noticed that Aug. 7 was Purple Heart Day. I immediately knew that I wanted our Coastal Carolina University social media accounts to honor a CCU-related Purple Heart recipient when the first Wednesday of August came around.

I worked with our Office of Veteran Services to identify a Chanticleer who was awarded the Purple Heart. They connected me with Chris Trinemeyer, a 2017 CCU alumnus and United Stated Marine who served from 2005 to 2013. Other than his name, I didn’t know much about him until he arrived for his photoshoot last week. With our talented director of photography, Judy Johns, snapping the photos, the two of us quickly became acquainted with Chris’ friendly personality.

With his Purple Heart on the stool, Chris holds his other medals while Judy takes photos in the studio.

We shot first in the studio. When we concluded there, we went out in front of Atheneum Hall. From there we went to where his vehicle was parked and took some photos in front of his Purple Heart-designated license plate. Throughout most of the shoot we just discussed his military service and experience at Coastal. However, with the shoot coming to an end, I nervously asked him how he was injured.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t a minor accident or non-serious flesh wound.

In May 2006, Chris was part of a convoy in Ramadi, Iraq, when two IEDs detonated underneath the vehicle he was driving in. The blasts knocked him unconscious and sent shrapnel up and down his right side. When he awoke, he was still in his destroyed vehicle as chaos reigned around him. Mentioning that blood was everywhere, the violent scene was muted for Chris because the explosion temporarily left him deaf.

A look at the Facebook post we published this morning in honor of Purple Heart recipient Chris Trinemeyer.

Thanks to his will power and his fellow marines, Chris would survive. He still has shrapnel embedded in his side and is reminded of it every time he tries to go through a metal detector. As he told me the story, I was in awe that I was standing next to someone who survived such a horrific attack in one of the most hostile war zones of this century. I thanked him for his service and he graciously followed up after the shoot with an email describing more in depth what happened to him that day in 2006.

We need to be appreciative of our Purple Heart recipients. Many return to civilian life with more than physical wounds. Being hurt on the battlefield can carry with it PTSD and other trauma that can last a lifetime. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this post to also recognize my Uncle Danny, a Purple Heart recipient himself from his service in Vietnam.

We used a six-tweet Twitter thread to tell Chris’ story and showcase all the beautiful photography that Judy captured.

Do you know someone who has received the Purple Heart? Make sure to call or text them tonight and say thank you. Don’t Blink.

More than a Social Media Challenge

It happens more often than we think. When adults resort to squabbling and blaming, it is usually the younger generation that rises above and sets an example for us all.

With the recent mass shooting tragedies, as a country, there seems to be more venom and division than kindness and unity. This morning, I heard a story about an El Paso boy who has implemented an impactful social media challenge. Based on positivity and action, 11-year-old Ruben Martinez rolled out the #elpasoCHALLENGE to remember the 22 people who were killed in his hometown this past weekend.

I think the #elpasoCHALLENGE is a great idea.

The movement is simple but beautiful. Ruben is challenging El Paso residents to complete 22 good deeds, one for each person who perished in the senseless tragedy. The acts can be big or small, random or methodical. Meant at first just for El Paso, the #elpasoCHALLENGE has now spread across the country.

Ruben’s written plan.

Although nothing will reverse what happened, I find this challenge practical, do-able, and helpful. At first, it seems pretty ambitious––completing 22 acts takes time and planning. But when you can fully embrace that each act is to be done for someone who perished¬¬––whether it be 15-year-old Javier Rodriguez or 86-year-old Angie Englisbee or any of the 20 other victims––the task becomes much more inspiring than daunting.

Great work, Ruben!

There is no stipulation that says the challenge has to be done alone. I think completing it with family is ideal. Coming to grips with the hate that exists in this country while at the same time fostering the love and kindness that is needed to overcome it is the best family lesson there is. With the underlining focus that each deed is done for a specific person, I think the #elpasoCHALLENGE can be very powerful for loved ones to complete together over the course of a month.

Thank you for challenging us, Ruben. Don’t Blink.

Grandparents

My parents returned to Spokane today after a short (but sweet) impromptu trip to Myrtle Beach.

During their time here, my mom and dad enjoyed doing A LOT with Sloan, including…

Giving her all the watermelon she could eat.

Sloan never went without one of her favorite foods, watermelon, while her grandparents were here,


Riding in play cars, both big and small.

Sloan found a Ram at Walmart but also cruised a lot in her pink car.


Assisting with making coffee every morning.

Literally…Sloan’s favorite thing to do was help grandma make her coffee every morning.


Nestling her in the early mornings and late at night.

A lot of cuddling on the couch went on.


Dancing to the Hokie Pokie and “Move Like the Dinosaurs” over and over.

Sorry! No photos exist of my parents dancing with Sloan. You will just have to trust me that it actually happened. Here is a basic cute photo instead.


Pushing her in swings at the park and in the backyard as she screams “HIGHER!”

Sloan has no fear on the swing and her grandparents satisfied her demands to go higher.


Allowing her to play with Play-Doh all she wants even though her parents hate it.

We don’t always allow Sloan to play with Play-Doh…but this weekend we did.


Reading her every book in her play room library.

My parents spent a lot of time reading books with Sloan and were amazed at how she could follow and memorize the stories.


Eating candy, ice cream, and popsicles all weekend long.

My mom and dad let Sloan eat a lot of sweets, including this cup of ice cream at lunch.


Nudging Papa’s sunglasses on and off.

My dad usually doesn’t like people to mess with his sunglasses, especially by getting fingerprints on them. He made an exception for Sloan.


Throwing pieces of bread and crackers into the neighborhood pond to feed the turtles.

My parents took Sloan to the neighborhood gazebo to feed the turtles.


Smiling at her like she is the most precious thing in the whole world.

The smile on my mom’s face says it all.

We are so happy that Sloan was able to see her grandparents during a time we usually never see each other. I personally want to thank my parents for making the long trip and spoiling us. They truly are the best. Don’t Blink.

Dew Thursday Rundown

Happy August! I know this month is packed for many of us so I sincerely hope the next four weeks are productive and enjoyable for you. Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Gone Fishing – Sloan “fished” (just like she “bowled”) for the first time over the weekend. From the same gazebo where she feeds the turtles, Sloan was also able to cast her first line. Does Sloan have the patience to be an accomplished fisherwoman? NO. Well, at least not at this point in her life. But it was still nice to get a fishing pole in her hands.

Sloan went fishing this past weekend.

Impromptu Visit from Parents – My mom and dad recently booked a spur of the moment trip to Myrtle Beach and they arrived in town yesterday. With us not making a trip to Spokane this summer and the jury out on whether we will visit at Christmas, my parents made sure that they wouldn’t go too long without seeing their granddaughter. Sloan’s love for her grandma and papa is as strong as ever and watching them spend time together is the absolute best. We are excited to have my parents stay through the weekend.

My parents are in town. This is a photo of them with Sloan at lunch today.

Banana Creme Frosted Flakes – There is a store near our house called Ollie’s. It reminds me of a second-run movie theater. Instead of getting the newest and hottest right when it is released, it receives inventory a little longer down the line. The benefit is that the product (or movie) comes at a discounted price. Ollie’s is home to a large and eclectic mix of grocery/toy/hardware/personal care/etc. products that you might not see on the shelves at a Walmart or Home Depot anymore. The selection is vast and discounts many. I couldn’t help but purchase this banana-flavored family sized box of Frosted Flakes for $1.99. Make sure to take your own trip to Ollie’s to see the other oddball products you can take home with you.

I picked up these Banana Crème Frosted Flakes from Ollie’s.

Mt Dew Varieties – The highly caffeinated green liquid from the Pepsi-Cola company isn’t necessarily always green. Mt. Dew Code Red, Livewire, and Baja Blast are all drinks under the Dew brand that most of us have heard of. A rare trip to KFC recently introduced me to another. When I purchased one of the mashed potato bowls a drink came with it. I noticed the Mt. Dew Sweet Lightning option prominently advertised on the drive-thru menu. Without even asking about the flavor (because how do you conceptualize “Sweet Lightning”?), I decided to order it. Can’t say that I was that disappointed with it. It tasted like tangerine soda and on a hot July evening it hit the spot.

You can only get Sweet Lightning Mt. Dew from KFC.

Something to Snicker At – Even by social media standards, this is a shameless publicity stunt. Snickers says it will distribute 1 million free candy bars to America if the Federal Government changes the date of Halloween this year. The candy company wants to see Halloween moved from Thursday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Oct. 26. Of course it would NEVER happen. Could you imagine Halloween on a date other than the last day of October? Not even Dracula himself could get it moved. The other part I find funny about this “bribe” is that having Halloween on a Thursday really isn’t that bad. Of course a weekend night would be preferred but compared it having it on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, it isn’t that terrible of a deal to have it on Thursday. What a crock.

Give me a break.

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It will be a weekend dedicated to family. I hope all of my readers can enjoy some family time too as we navigate through these dog days of summer. Don’t Blink.

Collectibles or Garbage?

About a year ago, I gave my brother a proposition. I told him he could sell the thousands of baseball cards I collected as a kid that were collecting dust in my parents’ basement. The offer extended to the premium cards, including “valuable” rookie cards, that I had stored in a special padded binder.

The stipulation? My brother would need to give me half the profits.

My brother’s response? Hell no!

I collected a lot of Topps trading cards when I was a kid.

He didn’t say no just because I wanted to split the revenue with him. He denied me because he didn’t want to put forth the effort selling something he didn’t think was worthwhile. I thought he was missing out on a pretty sweet opportunity.

A documentary I watched last night on Netflix said otherwise.

Called “Jack of All Trades,” the film follows a person who was disheartened to learn that the baseball cards he collected as a kid were practically worthless in 2019. Thought to be a wise investment in the 1990s, his cards never grew in value. Why? Overproduction. A Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card was thought to be valuable….until thousands of them were printed.

Baseball cards weren’t the only thing I collected as a youngster. I also manically hoarded….

Pogs – Oh yes, I grew up in the pogs era. I loved unique pogs and powerful slammers, saving whatever money I had to buy them. It was always a competitive adventure when my friends and I would “play for keeps.” Speaking of competitive nerdiness, my obsession drove me to enter a pog tournament at one of the local malls in Spokane. I am kind of sad that social media wasn’t around during the pog era because I could have learned some cool techniques from YouTube videos.

Bouncy Balls – My brother and I collected no less than 200 bouncy balls. I am talking about the miniature rubber balls that you could purchase from a gumball-esque machine. We threw spare change we found around the house in those machines, traded our arcade tickets for them, and crossed our fingers that they would be inside the goodie bags we received at birthday parties. We carried them in our pockets and bounced them wherever we went. When my sister competed in gymnastics meets, we would take our bouncy balls and throw them around the auxiliary gym that was not being used for the competition. The collection is still intact in a large garbage bag at my parents’ house.

Soda Caps – Over three years ago, I mentioned the lengths my brother and I would go to collect caps off of plastic soda bottles. We would literally sift through public garbage cans to get them, not giving a damn about germs or stray trash. We participated in every promotion under the sun offered by Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Points! Points! Points! Friends and classmates would bring me handfuls of caps they saved just for me. Thankfully, you won’t find excess bottle caps left behind by yours truly at my parents’ house. Each one contributed to a prize of some sort (and that is for a whole different blog post).

So, in closing, I want to commend my brother for having the intelligence to turn down my offer. But, in all honesty, how much do you think those bouncy ball are worth? Don’t Blink.

Asking For Permission

I remember it well. Prior to asking my father-in-law if I could marry Sidney, I called him several days prior to arrange a time to meet with him. I actually extended the invite to my mother-in-law too but she thought it would be more appropriate for the two of us to meet one-on-one (wait, how did she know what was coming? Is it a giveaway to randomly call your girlfriend’s parents and awkwardly request a meeting with them?).

The afternoon of “our talk” I showed up at my in-law’s house pretty nervous. I walked up to the door, took a deep breath, and rang the doorbell. Mr. Sid (my wife is named after her dad) opened the door and warmly greeted me. He led me to the living room and after some small talk I launched into my speech. After I finished, he graciously approved my request to ask Sidney to marry me.

As the nerves and adrenaline started to subside, I went out to my car and brought in a cooler filled with some cold ones. Mr. Sid and I shared a few Michelob Ultras, Sidney’s favorite beer, and discussed life. At this time Sidney’s mom, Brenda, returned to the house and her suspicion was confirmed.

As we talked, I invited both my future in-laws to attend the actual proposal (pictured here after Sidney said “yes”).

In the newspaper today, there was an advice column that dealt with the necessity of asking a woman’s father for his approval before popping the question.

This was the exact question and response regarding the subject of asking permission to marry someone.

The reader said he wanted to ask permission from his girlfriend’s parents because it was the polite thing to do and because it would start the relationship with his future in-laws on a good note. His big dilemma was whether to do it in person or over the phone. He preferred to do it face-to-face but her parents lived far away with no future trips planned. The girlfriend was hoping for a summer proposal.

The advice columnist responded by shaming the tradition of asking the father’s permission, saying that it originated from a time when women were property and belonged to their parents. However, he did concede that it would be a gesture well-received by her parents. He replied that asking from a distance would be OK and even offered a solution on how to do it: Set up either a phone call or Facetime session by email, allowing some organization and build up to take place.

I wanted to briefly respond to both parts of the advice given by the columnist (Philip Galanes). Sometimes the reason why a tradition originated loses its meaning over time and the reason why it is sustained is due to other factors relevant to modern society. In this day and age, asking for permission to marry someone is smart and courteous. It allows the parents to give the requester insight gained from years of experience. Fathers and mothers have a good idea whether their daughter and significant other are ready for a lifelong commitment and trust should be placed in them for final guidance. Also, it is about respect. Tipping the daughter’s parents off before she is asked ensures that they won’t be shocked or caught off guard, something they will appreciate. Finally, if the parents are nice enough to help out with the wedding in any way, I feel it is absolutely paramount to ask for permission.

So I don’t think the tradition of asking parents for marital permission is outdated or degrading at all. It might not serve the exact same purpose it did hundreds of years ago, but it nonetheless serves an important (and different) purpose today.

I don’t think Galanes struck out with his advice though. I am glad he gave the reader the green light to ask for permission in a way that didn’t require him and the parents to be in the same room. In life, there are many important situations when talking to someone face-to-face is preferred. But if geographic limitations exist, you still have to communicate somehow. Recently, my brother asked his girlfriend to marry him. Because he lives in Washington state and his future in-laws live in Florida, he asked via phone rather than waiting until earlier this summer when they visited Spokane. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

In my mind, the suggestion by Galanes to possibly ask for permission via video call was genius. By Facetiming or Skyping the father, the reader still has to look him in the eye and make his body language convey the exact same sentiment he is expressing verbally.

Asking for permission to marry someone is something you will always remember––and it is something the parents will always remember as well. It is important to do, regardless of whether you are able to do it in person or not. Don’t Blink.

Red and Green Thursday Rundown

Good evening, my friends. I could start by talking about how the summer is flying by but I want to be more optimistic; it is still July so start living for the moment! Also, start living for this Thursday Rundown because I have five topics ready for you…

Sloan’s First Time Bowling – Although we took Sloan to a bowling alley a little over a year ago, last Friday was the first time she bowled herself. Going on the adventure was my idea, I thought the new 810 bowling alley right by CCU would be a great environment for her to hit the lanes for the first time. We set Sloan up with a bowling ramp, an aid that allows those not strong enough to hold/throw a ball to just push it (unfortunately, they are surprisingly inaccurate). Even with the gutter balls and frustration of having to take turns, Sloan had a blast. As for Sid and I? Let’s put it this way…it was a lot of work!

Sloan bowled for the first time this past weekend at 810 in Conway.

Screaming Ice Cream Deal – Every weekend, Kroger and Fred Meyer stores offer really good deals on a particular item. The latest featured product was ice cream! Cartons of Kroger ice cream were on sale for 99¢. These deals always start on Friday and end on Saturday. After I worked out on Friday morning, I stopped by the Kroger right next to our house on the way home. Not wanting the best flavors to be picked over, I waited in the parking lot until the store opened at 6 a.m. I went right inside and purchased five cartons (the limit) from the fully stocked coolers. Our freezer is now crammed with ice cream and Sloan loves the Unicorn Swirl flavor I purchased just for her.

he five cartons of ice cream I bought from Kroger on Friday.

Christmas in July – There is no denying it, Christmas in July is more mainstream than ever. For example, Hallmark is showing holiday movies non-stop this week and today Sloan’s daycare had a Christmas in July celebration. Personally, I don’t like it. Not only is it not Christ’s birthday in July, but I feel it cheapens the Christmas spirit in general. The anticipation and joy of the holiday should come once a year, not twice. With that said, in exactly five months we will be celebrating the real Christmas.

I am not a fan of Christmas in July.

Bicentennial – It is not unusual for someone to ask Are there actually any Catholics in South Carolina? Well, the answer is yes, in large part because there are Catholics everywhere –– to the tune of 1.2 billion on the planet. But, in relation to this country, there are fewer in this state than others (10% of South Carolina citizens are Catholic, ranking it 40th in the United States). With that said, the Diocese of Charleston, which covers the entire state, has a very rich history. We just started celebrating our bicentennial anniversary. The yearlong series of events and observances will culminate on July 20, 2020, with the celebration of the diocese’s founding by Pope Pius VII on July 11, 1820. The history of the Diocese of Charleston, especially those first years, is fascinating, and would be of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The Diocese of Charleston is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

National Refreshment Day – Out of the 10 or so “national days” being celebrated today, National Refreshment Day is one of them. Earlier this year, I wrote about my top five favorite refreshments. On the list was the Sonic Slush. It just so turned out that I finally had my first Slush of the summer this past weekend. After a long and hot (but very fun) day on the boat and at the beach, we went through the Sonic drive-thru. I got blue coconut and Sid ordered grape. Because we didn’t need another mess in the back seat, we got Sloan water. Although I can’t speak for Sloan, our Slushes sure hit the spot!

I happily sipped my blue coconut Slush this past Saturday.

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Another summer weekend is on tap. I suggest you spend it in a swimsuit, not a red and green ugly sweater. Talk soon. Don’t Blink.

Eliminating Instagram Ego

What do you do when your favorite social media channel decides to take away your consistent ego boost? Or, from a professional standpoint, what about the rudimentary metric that is supposed to define whether or not you are managing the company’s social media presence correctly?

I love Instagram. A lot has changed with the platform since this photo was taken in 2012 (much more than just my uploaded images count).

You freak out, right?

Whispered about for a long time now, Instagram is finally taking steps to possibly completely eliminate the external indicator of how many “likes” an image receives. Instagram vloggers won’t be spared –– the video view count will also be a casualty. The social media giant has now started testing a no  likes/views platform in seven different countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand). Yikes, I feel bad for the proud puppy owners and body builders in those places!

Recently, Instagram announced that it in several countries it is testing its service without revealing “likes” to followers.

When I first heard about the development, I wasn’t too thrilled. As I mentioned, the number of “likes” (I will stop with the quotation marks from here on out) is the most basic of analytics. Although it can be overblown, the like count of an image is an important big picture summary of how a piece of content performed. Although any social media professional worth a darn will look at more complex analytics to truly evaluate a piece of content, we are lying if we tell you that we don’t look at likes.

This is what it looks like when you can’t see the “likes” on a photo. Caption and comments are still there but not a like count.

I was bummed by the news from a personal angle as well. I think people who post important or good content, no matter how trivial or superficial the act is, should be rewarded by the collective tapping of hearts by their peers.

But, like with many “major” social media changes, the rollout isn’t always as devastating as the rumor. If you caught it earlier, Instagram is taking away the external indicator of likes/views. That means your ex won’t be able to see how many people are liking your posts, but you still will be able to.

Don’t lose all hope. Even though your followers won’t be able to see your photo likes, you will still be able to.

This is a compromise I can deal with.

When pressed, I will say that people and brands deserve to flaunt the likes they receive for all to see. There is no debating it, there is a feeling of importance and victory that comes with a popular image, and, like I have already said, I don’t have a problem with people being rewarded for building an audience and delivering good content.

But I understand the other side as well. Removing “likes” (sorry, have to go back to the quotation marks––they just provide clarity) from public view will make many people feel more comfortable and empowered to use social media, because let’s face it: getting a lot of likes feels good, but not getting a lot can feel bad. I know this might seem like fostering a culture where everyone gets a trophy (or, perhaps, where no one get a trophy?), but I think this is one case where we can err on the side of appeasing the emotional well-being of others.

From my professional social media director perspective, I can’t get too bent out of shape about it. I will still have full knowledge of the “likes” our content is generating, which is pretty much all I can really ask for. If anything, the change might decrease the pressure of my job. Although I truly do love the competition/challenge, I won’t feel like the campus community and/or other universities are scrutinizing the performance of every post that goes up.

In the end, my thoughts on this might not even matter. Instagram is just testing this out. However, if the “like” count does disappear one day, I won’t be surprised and my self-esteem won’t be shattered. Don’t Blink.

A Flower Girl Proposal

Earlier this month when my brother and his fiancée visited, I wasn’t the only one who received a wedding party proposal. The day before I was asked to be Glen’s best man, the engaged couple popped a particular question to Sloan as well.

An hour or so after Glen and Carrie arrived at our house, they slipped down the hallway where Sloan’s room is. With it being the same hallway where the guestroom is located, I thought they were just unpacking. With the duo absent, I watched TV while Sloan entertained herself in the playroom.

About 10 minutes later, they resurfaced and Carrie took Sloan by the hand. My brother followed them while Sidney and I followed behind Glen. As we came to the start of the hallway, I could see the beginning of a trail of pink flower petals.

Flower petals were placed in the hallway (Wondering why this image and most of the ones to follow are such bad quality? Most of these images I captured from the video that Glen took).

The petals led to the door of Sloan’s room. With Glen filming the whole thing, I knew something was up. Carrie let Sloan open the door…

Carrie let Sloan open the door to see what was going on inside.

The petal trail grew thicker and led to a stool in Sloan’s room. On the stool was a gift bag. At this point I realized what was happening. Claiming complete ignorance, I had no idea what was going on until the door opened…Sid couldn’t believe how stupid I was when I admitted it to her.

At this point, I knew what was going on.

Propped up against the gift bag was a card. Sloan grabbed the card and handed it to Carrie who opened it up. Sloan’s future aunt read the card aloud, which asked if our daughter would want to be a flower girl at their wedding next July.

Sloan being asked “The Question.”

Sloan accepted :)

Inside the bag were a few different mementos…you know, flower girl stuff? Of course she was given a bouquet…

Sloan was given a bouquet that she allowed Uncle Glen to smell.

…a cute holder to toss her petals from…

Sloan was given this holder to throw her petals from.

…and an official flower girl t-shirt.

Sloan will share flower girl duties with her cousin, Mikayla, who is modeling the shirt that Sloan received as well.

The best part is that she gets to share her flower girl duties with her cousin, Mikayla! Because Sloan has a whole year to prepare and because she will be working with her cousin, I think Glen and Carrie can be 100% confident that the flower girl role will be adequately covered for their big day.

Thank you to Glen and Carrie for making Sloan feel special! She is so happy to be part of the wedding. One thing is for sure, our little girl loves the spotlight! Don’t Blink.

Building the Faith

To visit the Coastal Catholics website, click here
To view the Coastal Catholics Newman Center campaign video, click here

Have you ever had the chance help build something special? How about something that aligns directly with your core beliefs while at the same time benefiting those who need it most?

Currently, I am lucky enough to be associated with a group at Coastal Carolina University that is poised to make a big difference in the lives of thousands of students at CCU. This group is led by a dedicated and faithful individual with passionate students and loyal faculty/staff/community members helping to lead the charge.

I am proud to be associated with the Coastal Catholics.

But first, a quick personal story…

During my time in college at the University of Montana, I played intramural sports, interned in the athletic department, worked as a resident assistant, participated in a couple different academic clubs, and attended every Griz sporting event I could.

But my freshman year didn’t begin with a residence hall activity or a football game inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Rather, the first event I attended as a college student was a welcome picnic hosted by Catholic Campus Ministries. The gathering took place on a sunny August evening at Christ the King, the parish that serves as the Newman Center at the University of Montana (a Newman Center is a central place for Catholic students at a college to congregate at).

That night was the start of four great years I would spend involved with the ministry. I developed friendships with fellow students who were Catholic, had the pleasure of learning from two influential priests (Father Jim Hogan and Father Jeff Fleming), and met countless parishioners in the Diocese of Helena. There was no doubt I experienced spiritual growth in the Newman Center itself, a space that was connected to Christ the King, conveniently renovated and practically brand new at the time of my arrival. 

I spent a lot of time at the University of Montana Newman Center inside Christ the King Parish in Missoula, Mt.

Okay, enough of my reminiscing. Let’s head back to South Carolina…

In August of 2018, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston made a significant move. He assigned Father David Nerbun to be the fulltime Catholic chaplain at Coastal Carolina University. Just the third fulltime priest on a college campus in the state, the assignment was a big deal. I met Fr. David that first month during an event on Prince Lawn and was immediately impressed by his energy and vision. I knew he would do great things.

Father David Nerbun is doing great things at CCU (Photo courtesy of Father Nerbun’s Facebook page).

It didn’t take long for Father David to prove me right. He immediately started establishing structure and designing programming for the student organization known as the Coastal Catholics. He identified student leaders and empowered them to make a big difference within the group. He built a social media presence and familiarized himself with the tendencies of Generation Z. He made himself visible on campus and attended the social activities of the group. He laid the groundwork for missionaries from FOCUS, a Catholic collegiate outreach group, to arrive at CCU next month to serve our student population throughout the academic year.

Next month, these five FOCUS Missionaries will be on our campus.

Oh yeah, he also became involved in another project as well…

He is spearheading the efforts to build a Newman Center.

Father David Nerbun is leading the charge to build a Newman Center at CCU.

You see, Bishop Guglielmone had made another big move regarding the CCU Catholic community a few years prior to naming Father David our chaplain. Realizing the need for a “hub” that Catholic students could call home, the Diocese of Charleston purchased property just a quarter mile from campus at 396 West Cox Ferry Road. A house conveniently sits on the property, a structure that has all the potential in the world to grow young people closer to God.

It is now time to make sure that potential is not wasted.

A campaign is underway to convert what was once a residential home into a Newman Center. The project consists of two phases, with the first simply focusing on making the space available for students to congregate. A kitchen, dining room, offices, bathrooms, study areas, and storage will be retrofitted within the walls of the structure. Phase two calls for construction beyond them. The space will be expanded with the addition of a chapel and a conference room. The worship space will come “fully loaded” with a confessional and sacristy. A parking lot, Stations of the Cross trail, reflection garden, and sports field will be added outside.

A look at the property at 396 West Cox Ferry Road in January 2019. Work has already been done by volunteers to beautify the outside area and work has started inside. But now is the time to get serious with the heavy lifting as we tackle phase one and phase two.

The campaign is ambitious but key pieces are in place. Strong leadership, a solid plan, dedicated prayer, and undeniable enthusiasm serve as the backbone of the project. But, as with any major construction endeavor, funding is part of the equation. The first phase will cost around $250K-$300K while the second phase will run around $500K. With the Diocese of Charleston already lending a big hand with the purchase of the property and other aid, the opportunity rests with our local community of area Catholics to fund the next stages.

The sign was installed at the property last week and a campaign video was released.

Trust me, the money raised will address a crucial need. The aim of the campaign is not to build a luxurious building with all the bells and whistles. Rather, it is to build a suitable space where students can attend mass, go to confession, and grow in their faith. Currently, Coastal Catholic services are held at Lackey Chapel, an interdenominational structure, and many events/group meetings are held in the Lib Jackson Student Union. Although these facilities allow the group to be functional, scheduling is difficult when over 180 other student organizations are vying for the same space.

The Coastal Catholics Newman Student Center won’t be an architectural marvel, but it will fill a real need and allow for the Lord’s work to be done.

My appeal tonight is to the people like me––the ones who benefitted from a Newman Center during their years as a college student. We know the unmistakable blessing it was to have a 24/7 resource that would energize and re-enforce our faith whenever we walked through the doors. Many of us had some of our best and most important college moments in the Newman Center at whatever university we attended. Now is the chance to help provide this experience to others. If this strikes a chord with you, click here.

If you had an impactful experience at your college’s Newman Center, consider helping these students get one of their own at Coastal Carolina University (photo courtesy of Father David Nerbun).

With or without a building, nothing can take my admiration away from the Coastal Catholics. Those part of the organization are on fire to practice their faith and to pull others toward discovering their own. Please pray for Father David and the students he is having an impact on. Don’t Blink.