Highland's internship program, starting fall of 2023, is an opportunity for young people (i.e., recent college grads or individuals who have been out of high school for several years) to experience a year of discipleship and ministry, while also receiving a regular wage. We will work with each intern to identify their existing skill sets and areas of interest; this information will then be used to direct their area of focus as they serve at Highland and in the local community.
This internship program is offered in partnership with VMMissions as part of their tranSend program. Individuals who are interested in the program will need to submit an application through VMMissions. This link will take you to the appropriate page on their website; follow the directions there to contact their staff for more information.
How did the internship program come to be?
Identifying a need at Highland. Like many non-profit organizations, Highland Retreat has a big mission and a relatively small staff. We are blessed to have volunteers who help out with special projects or specific needs, but there are also plenty of times when another set of hands would make all the difference in completing a maintenance task, serving meals to a guest group, or running the climbing tower. A team of 1-4 interns who could receive training and then be available to step into some of those gaps could make a huge difference in what our staff could accomplish!
Acquiring Green Valley House. In 2019, Highland had the opportunity to purchase the former Green Valley Clinic, just across Route 259 from Highland's main office. We spent the next couple of years completely remodeling the interior of the building, transforming it from a medical space into housing for Highland staff and volunteers. The smaller, self-contained apartment was quickly put to use housing year-round staff, while the larger, shared living space was used sporadically by volunteers or summer staff as we waited for the dream of housing interns to come to fruition.
Reaching out to the community. While renovating Green Valley House, Highland's staff were conscious of the legacy of the Clinic and all it had meant for those who lived nearby. As we dreamed of starting an internship program, part of that dream involved finding a way for Highland to carry on that legacy of positively impacting the local community. So we went to some local pastors with this question: What existing local ministries could be amplified by interns' efforts and Highland's resources? We soon had a list of possibilities to pursue, including everything from programs for children and youth to meal deliveries for seniors. At the same time, several churches expressed willingness to welcome interns into their church families; they are ready to provide nurturing relationships and social interactions for young people who may not be used to living in a rural community. What a beautiful, mutually beneficial arrangement!
Partnering with VMMissions. Even with our ideas for service opportunities and connections with local churches solidifying, there were still many aspects of running an internship program left unanswered. The best solution was not to reinvent the wheel, but to partner with an organization that had already figured out those details. VMMissions’ tranSend program is a proven model of service and discipleship for young adults, with a healthy missions structure. Their existing program can provide participants with training, networking, funding and fundraising assistance, and mentorship; being able to partner with them is a definite blessing for Highland, and our interns will benefit from VMMissions' experience.
Recruiting our first interns. While we plan for the internship program to typically cover a full year (September to August) recruitment for our first group of interns started a bit late; our inaugural year will be more like a 10-month program. Young people who are interested in participating are encouraged to apply through VMMissions as soon as possible (ideally by the middle of September). Applicants will be interviewed, and then, if accepted, will need time to organize a support team and do some fundraising prior to starting the term of service in October or early November.
This is a paid internship. Both Highland and VMMissions have pledged to provide a set amount of funding for each intern, and VMMissions will provide fundraising support as well for interns who choose to augment their wage in that manner. We can accept up to 4 interns each year. If you are interested yourself or you know someone who might be a good fit for the program, feel free to reach out to Highland with questions or go directly to the VMMissions website to request the application.