While the average Seaholm senior is finalizing their college plans for next year and trying to find a roommate, senior Emily Potter will be doing things a little bit differently.
Instead of taking off for college in August like most of her classmates, Potter will be leaving home in June for a nine month mission trip through Youth With A Mission (YWAM), beginning with three months in Newcastle, Australia.
YWAM is a Christian international volunteer movement group that sends teenagers all over the world for mission work.
“Our purpose is simply to know God and make Him known,” the mission statement on the YWAM website said.
From there she will be sent to another two locations, which are currently unknown.
“I decided to go on a long term mission trip so in July I am leaving for Australia for three months and then I am going to two other continents for three months,” Potter said.
When Potter gets back after her mission trip, she plans to start college as a freshman.
“Whenever I get back I will decide whatever I want to do with my life and if I want to continue to do mission type work,” Potter said. “I want to be on the streets with people. I don’t want to be in an office.”
Volunteering and helping others was something that began for her at the beginning of her freshman year. She was brought down to Detroit by her youth group leader at Woodside Bible Church, for a week-long mission trip.
“I was introduced to Detroit by my small group (youth group) leader,” Potter said. “We did work in the community and meet people.”
Potter’s inspiration to begin her work in Detroit came from her church. However, now Potter’s work is done based on her own planning and arranging.
Every Thursday, after a long day of sitting through school, Potter makes the 35-minute drive down to the Grand Blvd. and Linwood. And then again on Saturday she makes the same trip.
“Every Saturday they have this community barbeque, rain or snow, they always have it. And it is where a lot of the homeless come to eat,” Potter said. “I have met a lot of people through that.”
Potter said this has never been something she was forced or made to do, simply something she wanted to do. She has a passion and drive for helping others.
“My favorite part of Detroit is helping people realize that they have a purpose and are loved,” Potter said. “[There is] so much beauty in people who are looked down upon because of their lifestyle.”
Abby Nummer, long time friend of Potter’s, has always been inspired by the work that she does.
“Emily is super positive and she really cares about people,” Nummer said. “She is so good at throwing out stereotypes and focusing on the good in everyone.”
Early on in her work in Detroit, Potter was introduced to a woman by the name of Cordette Grantling. She works with young mothers who are pregnant and then adopts the child to raise them in a safe and stable home.
“She makes relationships with young moms so by the time they are ready to give birth they hand their child over to Cordette for her to adopt,” Potter said. “She has three kids living in her house right now that are the ages of five, 13 and 15.”
Potter’s typical interactions with Grantling include tutoring and playing with her kids.
“She is a wonderful person to get to know,” Grantling said. “When she first came here the first day the children fell in love with her. She leaves an overwhelming excitement. It’s the spirit she leaves with you of how to love.”
Potter has also put together a number of fundraisers to benefit Grantling’s kids as well as other underprivileged kids in Detroit.
“She brought me so many clothes and food. She goes out and gets things from people and them brings it to people that are less fortunate. I mean she loads her car up and now she is coming out and doing tutoring with my children and children in the community,” Grantling said.
Potter doesn’t think of her work as “community service,” she is simply doing what she loves.
“I do what I do because I have a crazy love for people,” Potter said. “And it’s what gives me pure and real joy.”