Keep up with all the stories and opinions of students. Opinions published are not necessarily those of MVNU, the Church of the Nazarene or Viewer advertisers. The Viewer does not necessarily uphold or advocate opinions published.

Spreading Love at The Escape Zone

April 23, 2022 By Kelsi Brake

Escape Zone is just that -- an escape for children coming from single-parent homes or raised by a guardian to come have fun and get away. Some of the kids are at risk or are living in poverty. The purpose of Escape Zone is to be a safe space for kids to have fun and to be kids. 

Hannah Young, MVNU sophomore, is the leader of this COSMO group at MVNU and has a love for kids. She said, “I love to show them the love of Christ. I enjoy seeing the joy on their faces as they get to escape from their daily life.” There are around 50 or more kids who come to Escape Zone each week. “They love to hang out with college students, so they are always excited to see us,” Young added. 

The goal of this group is to give teens an opportunity to escape from their day-to-day life. College volunteers at Escape Zone want to show the love of Christ to them and be a good witness. This group wants the children to have a safe and fun place to hang out. They meet every Friday at the chapel at 6:30 p.m. to head to their facility.


Students can reach out to Young at hanyoung@mail.mvnu.edu to become involved in Escape Zone.

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Better Together

Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s motto is To Seek To Learn is to Seek To Serve. One way students are able to live out this principle is through CoSMO (Community and Service Ministry Opportunities) groups. 

One specific CoSMO group, Better Together, which meets once a week, orients itself around kids in the community who are on the autistic spectrum or possess learning disabilities. 

Brittany Miller, an elementary education and intervention specialist major, stated, “I’ve loved the opportunity to put [what] I’m learning in my classes into use as we plan activities and interact with parents and the kids.”

Miller, along with Obadiah Kurtz, another student, plan out the Better Together events and organize it for the community. “I think of CoSMo groups as an opportunity to give back to the community.” Miller said, reflecting on the purpose of CoSMO groups. Seeking to meet a need in the community and exemplify Christian values is a goal of MVNU, and Better Together illustrates this excellently. “The more that I interact with these families, the more I come to realize that [they]…can [walk] a lonely journey.” Miller added, “There aren’t a [ton] of fun options or opportunities for these kids to get involved in … so we are hoping to provide them and their families with an option.” 

Better Together isn’t just for the kids, it’s also for the siblings and the parents as well. “One of the things that surprised me . . .  is how fun it’s been [getting to] know the parents.” Miller continued, “Raising a child who is neurodivergent isn’t always easy, and I feel so honored to be able to work with some of these fantastic parents and their amazing kids.”

Better Together is open to the siblings to attend as well. Miller explained, “[The siblings know each other] better than we do and can offer a safe presence for some of our kids on the spectrum.” In addition to this, the siblings are provided with an opportunity to meet other kids who have a sibling on the spectrum, like them. This creates a community not only for the children on the spectrum, but also for the siblings and the parents. 

Currently, anywhere from two to eight children attend the Better Together CoSMO group. There are approximately five to seven volunteers at each event, so sometimes the kids get one on one attention. Better Together provides structure for the kids, with a different theme each week such as Disney, snow and colors. Structured like a daycare or summer camp, Better Together creates consistency for the kids, which is important to child development.


“These kids have so much to offer the world,” Miller stated. “They’re funny and smart, but you won’t know that unless you take the time to get to know them.” Better Together not only provides students with a serving opportunity but also gives these kids a chance to learn and be themselves in a safe environment. 

April 23, 2022 By Anna Dudgeon

Strong Relationships Formed Through Lunch Buddies

The CoSMO group Lunch Buddies lets MVNU students help local elementary school students reach their potential through mentorship.

Logan Kazelman, the Lunch Buddies CoSMO group leader, says the goal of Lunch Buddies is to “create meaningful relationships with students at the elementary level and show students the love that Jesus shows each and every one of us.” He feels very passionate about this ministry, saying that he was inspired to lead it because of “the rewarding nature of inspiring others to pour into students who are in need of a consistent person in their life. It is truly amazing how God uses each of our lunch buddies to do good in a student’s life.”


This year, 20 MVNU students mentored approximately 25 elementary school students each semester. Students spend an hour meeting with their student; they spend a half hour talking over lunch and a half hour playing on playground together. While they talk, the MVNU student checks on how the student is doing academically and encourages them to excel in their schoolwork. Another way they show the students love is by giving them small gifts. Kazelman says that “The reason we give gifts is because some of the students might not receive gifts at home. For example, this semester, each MVNU student has assembled an Easter basket and given it to their lunch buddy for Easter.”


To get involved, MVNU students should contact Logan Kazelman (logkazelman@mail.mvnu.edu), the Campus Ministries office, or find flyers around campus. Lunch Buddies meets for one hour a week, and the day students go to the elementary school is dependent on the schedule of the MVNU student.

April 23, 2022 By Allison Prouty

Nerf Club 

Nerf Club is an MVNU competitive club that comes together once a week to fellowship and play Nerf," as the current president of Nerf Club, Jacob Wilcox, explained, "The group meets every week on Friday in Arial Arena from 9 p.m. – midnight and plays a variety of game modes that cater to the students." 

"We are a group of students who love to hang out and make new friends while playing this game, Wilcox explained, "This club has been proven to improve the mental health of the many MVNU students who are regular attendees."


One of the current vice presidents, Aubrey Shaffer, shared that, "It's also a very mixed batch of people, so it's a great place to get to know people from each year and all sorts of majors. In the spring of 2021, the club received a grant of $500 to buy Nerf guns so that students who couldn't afford a gun of their own were still able to play.” Shaffer added that the club stays connected online throughout the week using a social media form normally used for video gaming called "Discord." 


The club currently averages 25 students a week. To begin each night, the leadership wills"start off with prayer and upcoming events, as well as discussing game types," Shaffer explained. “Player safety is also a concern amongst the members of the club. We want a limit of 125 FPS [feet per second]. Anything over that speed begins to hurt. The Nerf brand will typically avoid going over this limit. It was being cracked down the previous year [shooting strength] because some people were leaving from bullets causing real pain." 


The first president, Ian Moyer, explained how the club came to be. "When I went to MVNU, one thing I really wanted to concentrate on was the social aspect. I know that people get too focused on their studies and don't take the breaks they need. That summer [2019], I bought a bunch of Nerf guns and just started shooting people. I would convince people to join because I could offer my own guns. Lots of people were going to Walmart themselves to get their own. When we started, it was just the Oakwood boys on Fridays. But it got to the point that there were so many people that wanted to join in; but couldn't be in Oakwood, so I started looking to make it a club.”


Wilcox explained that as the group began to grow, they moved out of Oakwood and into the Chapel building where they then got too big for the facility. They realized that the group needed to become a club so that they could receive funding to help support the events. The group commonly referred to themselves as "Nerfwood" as a play-on-word because of its conception in Oakwood dorm-- making up the majority of its population for its first few semesters. The group since then has moved to just being called "Nerf Club.” Swisher shared that since then, the "group has moved from the relatively competitive group it once was to a light-hearted group." 


When Wilcox was asked what he hopes for the future of Nerf Club, "I have a desire to make this club’s influence stretch beyond campus and maybe pull in youth groups from churches around Mount Vernon,” he said. I also have plans of beginning a pre-Nerf bible study that will help grow these students in relationship with others and the Lord. My dreams are for this group to become leaders and influential people who can develop their faith into maturity and growth while also bringing out the kid in each individual.”


Twice now, once during the Fall 2021 and the Spring 2021 semesters, the club had the opportunity to host a tournament. Wilcox explained that he's an "event planner at heart." He looked over the budget and saved money where he knew he could. He obtained a cheap deal with Dominos and ordered pizza for the events and developed posters to advertise them across campus. The first-place team then won gift cards, and second place received boxes of candy. Wilcox, Shaffer, and Swisher plan on having another event this semester, but it will look quite different from the tournament-styled events in the past. 


Wilcox confirmed that Nerf club's leadership will be looking intently for a new leader to take on the group to keep it going after the three graduate this upcoming school year. Part of this plan is for Shaffer and Swisher to have potential candidates shadow them before taking the positions themselves. Wilcox hits home with a statement that encompasses what the leadership hopes for Nerf club; "Every person needs to have a little fun and release the stress from their life. For us Its Nerf or Nothing.'"

April 2, 2022 Jacob Glaze

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"Hola" CoSMO Group 

April 12, 2022 Henry Shobert

The “Hola” CoSMO (community and service ministry opportunities) group is one that serves the underserved, growing Latino community residing in Knox County. The group assembles on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:20 to 7:20 P.M,, at various local churches in Mount Vernon to assist Latino children with their studies. The group is led by Jr., Ryan O’Donnell.

O’Donnell discussed his role as leader of the group and the inspiration he received to take on the position. He explained, “Todd Risser (Associate Pastor at First Church of the Nazarene) reached out to MVNU with a growing need of tutors willing to help serve the Latino community. I saw it as a great opportunity to help kids in need and wanted to take full advantage of it. This project reaches a good number of families in the community so it can really leave a lasting and positive impact.” O’Donnell continued, describing how the group works, he said, “It’s a relatively simple process. Everyone shows up and is assigned a kid to work with. Things can be tough because of language barriers; however, as you get to know the kid you’re working with and get acquainted with them, it really builds chemistry and makes it easier for you to help them. Though people worry sometimes that they won’t be able to help with math or whatever, the kids are happy to receive assistance or encouragement in any way they can get. Just being there is huge.” O’Donnell wanted to encourage people to continue to come out and help, saying “The kids need assistance in a variety of studies, so the more tutors we can gather the better. It’s really nice to see people bond with the kids and give them support that they really need. I hope that this group and project can continue to thrive.”

So., Luke Modesto, discussed his experience with Hola. He said, “Hola was really an eye-opening experience for me. Witnessing firsthand the way the language barrier impacts the educational experience is crazy. It’s really amazing what we take for granted when it comes to our schooling and education.” He elaborated on his time with some of the kids, explaining, “I feel that I had a positive impact on them and was happy to work with them. I enjoy doing what I can to help others. Some of the kids I worked with struggled with math, so I was glad to be able to work through that with them. The amount of people that came to help was pretty impressive, so the kids are definitely benefiting from this project.”

Fr., Gabe Wolf, had very similar things to say. He remarked, “I got to help kids with a variety of subjects, and it was fun for me to be able to touch back on some of the things I learned a long time ago. It was interesting to see how well I could remember everything and be able to reiterate it to the kids. It was really overall a good experience.” 


The “Hola” CoSMO group meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:20 to 7:20 P.M. at various local churches in Mount Vernon. Students and anyone interested in supporting the project are encouraged to come out and help.

Getting to know Casey Cougar

February 20, 2022 : Dylan Elliott

Ever wonder who Casey Cougar is? Well, you’re in luck. Casey Cougar is obviously the mascot that attends MVNU Men’s and sometimes Women’s Basketball Games. You might see him around the arena giving high fives, taking pictures with people, or even signing autographs for the kids. I sat down with Casey to find out some more information.


Casey was asked about whether this is a volunteer or paid position, with his response being volunteer.

I also asked Casey why he does this job, “It’s really fun, he said. It’s just cool to go around and see different people.” 

I also asked Casey about what some of the benefits are about being the mascot, “It’s interesting because you get to sit next to some people that you might know, but they don’t know you, so I feel like I see people walk through the halls, and I know them, but they don’t know me.”

He also mentioned what it is like being in the costume, “The best word that I can describe it is hot, very hot!”

I also asked him what his favorite part about being Casey is, “I like getting to go around and hang out with people. They might not know who I am, but I know who they are. It’s just good to see them smile whenever I sit with [the fans].” 

Finally, Casey wanted to give a shoutout to Barry, who works in the caf. In Casey’s own words he said, “Casey loves Barry.”