Maranatha at PUC: Coming Together to Build Up Our Campus

By Lauren Vandenhoven on December 27, 2019

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For three weeks this summer community members, students, active and retired PUC faculty, and Maranatha volunteers worked together to renovate 31 student dorm rooms in Newton Hall, one of PUC's four residence halls.

Each person had a specific job to do, including building and installing cabinets, replacing dressers and countertops, putting in new ceiling lights, wall patching, repainting, and prepping for and laying down new flooring. Eighty-one total volunteers contributed to the project with an average of 35 to 45 per day, and nearly half were first-time volunteers.

Project coordinator Ed Jensen started doing volunteer work about 40 years ago, but became much more involved when he retired. For this project, he helped to register and provide information for volunteers.

"When a volunteer comes to the job, their housing and food is provided. They just need to come," he says. "And when these people work, they really put their heart into it."

Heidi Lukowicz, graphic designer for the college and first-time Maranatha volunteer, decided to help with this project because she wanted to give her young sons the experience of volunteering and connect them to Maranatha and the larger PUC community.

"It's amazing how fast you can get something done with many hands," says Lukowicz. "It doesn't matter if you know how to renovate a dorm; it only matters that you do the task at hand. I only did my small part, which was screwing in the subfloor, and I helped redo an entire dorm!"

Many current and retired faculty were also able to help with the renovations. Sylvia Rasi Gregorutti, professor of world languages, says she wanted to volunteer because she loves PUC and wants students to be comfortable in their on-campus housing.

"I was touched to learn that Maranatha volunteers are praying for the future occupants of the Newton Hall rooms they renovated," she says.

After painting, Gregorutti says she was tired and a little sore, but felt good after helping. "Volunteering is good for both heart and mind," she commented. "It takes you outside of yourself, away from your issues and problems."

Although many of the volunteers were already well acquainted with PUC, some were new to the campus and formed valuable connections while here. Carlos Van Phillips came with his wife, who surprised him by bringing him to California for a Maranatha project--something he had always wanted to do--rather than the vacation he thought they had planned. They helped to measure and map out flooring in each room.

"Everybody there worked together and I loved it. Everybody helped each other, and the camaraderie was wonderful," Carlos says. "PUC is not my alma mater, but I feel connected to PUC now. You can't help but fall in love with the place!" When asked if he would do more volunteer work in the future, he is very eager to come back again.

"I loved working with Maranatha and I will do another project in a heartbeat!" says Van Phillips. "I would not exchange this experience for anything."
  Maranatha will be back on campus in August 2020 to renovate rooms in Newton Hall and are now looking for volunteers. Those skilled in painting, flooring, electrical work, plumbing, and cabinetry are needed, but volunteers of all skill levels are welcome.

For more information on Maranatha's next project at PUC or to volunteer, please visit To contribute financially toward PUC's residence hall renovation projects, visit or contact the office of alumni & advancement at 707-965-7500.