Photo by Kelsey Anderson
Kelsey Anderson is a Pepperdine senior with a natural instinct to help others. She is a mentor for incoming transfer students every semester at Pepperdine and continues to help others through devoted service to her church.
Anderson said she fulfilled her passion to help others through their teenage transitions of life by volunteering at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village. She manages to do all this while dealing with her own battle: living with Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease heavily affects the digestive system. It is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Living with this disease has not only impacted Anderson’s life, but opened her eyes to serve others through her church.
“I felt called by God to volunteer in this ministry,” Anderson said. “I love kids, and I had a miserable time in middle school. I wanted to help kids with similar situations as mine and show them how it gets better over time.”
Due to the severity of middle school agony, Anderson said helping kids in any way she could would be the greatest reward of all. She said she hoped to impact the kids’ lives through the various community gatherings. Often they take trips together to go camping or have a communal bonfire at the beach in Malibu. With this in mind, Anderson said she also gained a sense of meaning through the external influence of her church. Through various trips and events, Anderson slowly but surely said she helped many kids from Westlake Village understand the challenges of a pubescent lifestyle.
“Helping kids through the rough patches gives me a sense of purpose, like I’m making a difference rather than just volunteering my time,” Anderson said.
Helping teenagers through any phase in life is not always an easy task. Anderson said she struggled at first to connect with the kids. They made her feel extremely awkward most times, she said. Yet, as time went on she learned to bond with the kids. One child in particular made quite the difference in her life.
Anderson shared one of her personal struggles in life at one of their beach bonfires they had and got a reaction she never expected. After sharing her story of getting diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a seventh grader went up to her and told her she was going through the exact same thing she was — battling Crohn’s disease. After hearing the child’s struggle, Anderson found her purpose.
“That moment answered all my questions and prayers about what I was doing and what I was going through,” she said. “It was the most humbling experience I’ve ever had volunteering.”
Anderson said her only hope was to make a difference in a teen’s life, whether it was small or even life-changing.
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