Agape - About & History
"And what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6: 8
What is Agape Service Project?
The Agape Service Project is a Christ-centered service program that empowers middle and high school students to enter into direct, mutually beneficial relationships with the migrant farmworker community in Whatcom County. Among other things, these students run a weekly food bank for farmworker families and provide enrichment activities for the children, while learning about Catholic social teaching and living in intentional community with their peers. The project additionally empowers Catholic college students to be servant leaders, which cements their position as missionary disciples in the Church.
Despite being essential in our food supply chain, farmworkers often are underpaid, living and working in unsafe conditions, and facing many barriers to receive services. Agape Service Project strives to respond to these physical needs of farmworker families — combating hunger, increasing access to health and human services, and providing enrichment for children. We also aim to build personal relationships with those we serve; along with our history of serving these families, this has led to Agape being a trusted program for an often-invisible community existing in a state of fear.
Since 2004, Agape Service Project has operated a unique approach to faith-filled services as we serve three very different groups of people under one mission:
- Farmworker community of Whatcom County: Our ultimate goal is to build personal relationships with these families. Our relational social services include a weekly food bank, increased access to health and human services, providing educational and recreational activities for children of farmworkers, college scholarships for farmworkers pursing higher education and supporting just farms with volunteer labor. Learn more about our services.
- Middle and high school youth from the Archdiocese of Seattle: Throughout the summer, we operate weeklong service-learning experiences for youth groups. We facilitate an immersive education program where they learn about human dignity, injustices migrant farmworkers face and why and how we as Catholics are called to serve. Our goal is that the youth leave our program more equipped to be change-makers in society, more grounded in their faith and ready to see and serve Christ in every person they meet.
- Catholic young adults: Every summer, we hire five college young adults who demonstrate servant leadership skills, are on fire for their faith and have a deep calling for social justice. Our staff go through an extensive formation period on missionary discipleship, Catholic social teaching, leadership development and best practices for youth ministry. Then they put it into action through a summer of prayerful sacrificial love, working for the common good and leading young people. Many of our former staff have moved on to lay ministry because of their formation experiences with Agape, which have helped them come alive in their faith and find a lifelong home in our Church and their faith lives.
In 1985, parishioners from St. Joseph, Lynden, started the Lynden Migrant La Paloma Day Care. Not only did this ministry serve the community for many years, it inspired the creation of the Youth Migrant Project in Skagit Valley and eventually the Agape Service Project
Western Washington University's Newman Catholic Campus Ministry started the Agape Service Project. With a combination of service projects in Bellingham and outreach to children of farmworkers, youth from the archdiocese engaged in a week of service.
With program growth and expansion goals, Agape moved under the Archdiocese of Seattle's Office of Pastoral Ministries, providing more opportunities for the collaboration while still employing college students from WWU's Newman Center.