The sunburns still haven’t faded since last Saturday’s coed volleyball tournament hosted by “The Ark,” but it was all for a good cause.
Starting early in the morning, a group of 12 Christian men known as The Ark gathered at Downer Ball Fields and began to set up for the long day ahead of them. This year’s event marks the sixth year of the tournament, making the group experts on setting up the volleyball nets and grilling food for about 100 people all day to raise money for a charity known as Charity: Water.
Charity: Water is a nonprofit international charity that builds wells and creates means of gathering clean drinking water to cowmmunities in developing countries. According to the Charity: Water website, 100% of the funds donated to the organization goes directly into helping in the developing countries. Through tournament fees alone, the group raised just over $650 to send to charity, one of the event's organizers said.
The men of The Ark, which was created in 2013, all live together and run the tournament through one of the campus ministries known as Ekklesia.
“The purpose of the house is to outreach to the community around us, whether that is the Ekklesia community, WWU, Whatcom [Community College] or just Whatcom County in general,” group member Jacob Lease said.
As the event organizer, he was in charge of creating the brackets, organizing check-ins, and making sure all of the teams had paid and were ready to play and to keep track of the progression of the tournament. This was Lease’s third and final year being involved in the tournament.
Christian Stromme, another member of The Ark, said he has been involved with the tournament for the past four years. Stromme said the tournament is fortunate enough to have a lot of returning teams, both in the competitive and recreational brackets.
According to Stromme, organizing the event takes several weeks of planning and most of it is through inviting and reaching out to people.
“Posting it on social media, telling people in your classes and making posters are all the bulk of the work,” Stromme said.
Along with the collaboration for the tournament in the weeks leading up, the house of men also collaborate on a very strong mission statement for serving the community both locally and globally.
“We hope to create an environment for people to come over anytime and feel welcomed, no matter their circumstances,” Stromme said. “Through our events, open-door policy and involvement in college ministries, we hope to connect with people and create a space where they can get to experience Jesus and a community of people who care for them.”
Another member, Alex Osler, said this year was also his third year attending the tournament as well as running it.
“There were a couple of recurring teams, mainly in the competitive bracket, but a lot of the ‘new’ teams were the same players who had just shifted to other teams to form a new team and play with other people,” Osler said.
Osler echoed Stromme, saying the house’s shared goal is loving others through a shared space and community.
Cat Persa played in the tournament for her second time in the recreational league. She has also been a member of Ekklesia for two years and has volunteered there for one year. The name of her team this year was “Weenie Hut Junior.”
“The tournament was the best and easiest excuse to join with community members to play in the sun while raising money for a very worthy cause,” Persa said.
Persa said the tournament shows the caring hearts of the men who run The Ark and that the event is a great excuse to go out and have fun. She also plans on participating in the tournament again in the following years.
This year’s winners of the tournament were “Consensual Sets” in the competitive league and consisted of Danny Dang, Shelby Kelli, Caimen Nguyen and Aimee Hofbauer. For the recreational league, the winners were “Please Go Easy” and consisted of players Aaron Gillis, Grant Goheen, Peter Strasser, Owen Markel, Logan King, and Danil Sonjaya.