maincurve UC Library MyUC iLearn Webmail Home
title Media Relations Home

 

01-02-2008


Right Hand Man: University of the Cumberlands professor assists Mountain Outreach

 


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – For one University of the Cumberlands professor, learning isn’t contained to just a classroom.

“I’ve really learned to deepen my faith. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from Mountain Outreach is that God has a plan for me and that he has been building it up all my life,” said Dr. Christopher Leskiw, associate professor of political science.

 


Since Leskiw joined the Cumberlands’ staff in 2004, he has been working with Mountain Outreach. “Everything about Mountain Outreach appeals to me, especially the mission of the organization. There is nothing like serving the underserved part of the community,” said Leskiw.

Mountain Outreach, one of Cumberlands’ non-profit organizations, makes needed home repairs and distributes clothing, shoes, coats, blankets, personal hygiene products and other items to meet the most basic of needs. Since its founding in 1982, thousands of students and other volunteers have built 126 homes and distributed clothing and other items to thousands of persons.

As far as construction experience goes, Leskiw learned mostly from his grandfather. When he was seven or eight years old, Leskiw followed him around on his job. The two built decks and roofs, wired homes for electricity, and painted. Later, as an adult, Leskiw and his wife, while living in other states, volunteered and worked for Habitat for Humanity. “We really enjoyed doing that together,” said Leskiw. “And, around here, Mountain Outreach serves that capacity.”

Leskiw has used his past construction experiences to assist other Mountain Outreach volunteers. He also has brought along new helpers to join the experience. During this past fall, ten students from his Insights class—a class designed for college freshmen to bridge the gap between high school and college—participated in a Mountain Outreach project.

The project assisted a man, undergoing chemotherapy treatments. According to Leskiw, the man’s home rested on a steep mountain without safe access to its front door. The man had to climb nearly six feet to reach his home and refused treatment from nurses in fear for their safety. Mountain Outreach attached a porch to his trailer, which enabled him to not only gain safe access to his home, but also to receive much need cancer treatments.

“Since that time, a few of those students have come to a number of our builds,” said Leskiw. “I’ve learned that I take away more from them [the students] than I think I give to them.”

Leskiw’s willingness and knowledge haven’t gone unnoticed or underappreciated. Mountain Outreach Director Marc Hensley said, “I knew that he was the person that I had asked God to send me. His construction knowledge and experience is top quality, and the rapport he has with the students is unbelievable. Mountain Outreach truly has a star in their crown, and it’s Dr. Leskiw.”

Even with such high praises, Leskiw remains modest and looks for the experience’s lesson. “I’ve learned to be very humble in circumstances – we go to places that totally shock me. I’m not used to seeing these kinds of things in terms of poverty. I’ve learned lots of humility and lots of compassion,” said Leskiw.

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 118th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, graduate degrees and certifications in education as well as online programs.