Archived Voice Articles

Barb Mellema heads annual fund

Barb Mellema graduated from Dordt as a non-traditional student in 2003 and went on with her life in Sioux Center, but she missed the energy and intensity of the students she’d been sharing classes with for years. As a businessperson and longtime supporter of Dordt College, she’s seen how the college benefits both the local and the broader community. When the position of Director of the Annual Fund came open last year, she was open to a change.

Barb Mellema

Barb Mellema

As the new director, Mellema is responsible for the annual phonathon, which raises money for the college’s Annual Fund, for alumni scholarships, and for debt reduction. She also calls on local businesses to raise the financial support needed for an institution like Dordt College to survive and thrive. It’s easy for her to do, because her experience and longtime relationship with the institution has convinced her that Dordt College has something valuable to offer.

As the supervisor of student callers for the phonathon, Mellema sets three goals before her student callers. She tells them their job is

She tells them, “Raising the funds is absolutely crucial, but it is number three on the priority list.”

While Mellema’s work is essential for the college, she also sees it as contributing to the education of the students who work for her.

“I ask myself, ‘What does Dordt’s mission look like for what we do with this phonathon,’” she says. “How does what we do help prepare them for a life of serving God in all areas of their lives?”

One of the ways Mellema believes her callers grow is in their personal communication skills.

“The kids need to have a smile in their voice,” she says. She encourages them to treat people warmly and respectfully but unashamedly because they believe in the cause they’re working for.

They also learn something else that may be even more important.

“They develop a sense of history and commitment by talking to people who sat in some of the same classes and desks as they are doing now, learning how they have benefited from their Dordt education,” she says. “Students love talking to alumni.”

The callers also see how people give back, and how concretely they are benefiting from the gifts of those who have gone before them.

“It helps them see a bigger picture—that college is not just about taking classes and fulfilling requirements to get a good job, but also about preparing for living after college.” They learn what it is to be generous and stewardly.

Mellema hopes that the alumni, parents, and friends who receive calls consider not only how they can financially support the college, but also how they are contributing to that student’s education—since they do, whether they are aware of it or not. She hopes you’ll take the time to talk with them and let them tell you about the education they are receiving as well.