Donor Appreciation

By Makena Schoene
Blog & Social Media Coordinator, The Drake Community Press 

The Drake Community Press is very grateful or the members of the community who put forth financial support in order to turn our visions into a reality. For many of our donors, this project struck an emotional chord, as these incredible individuals saw the value of a project like A Spectrum of Faith in today’s world.

The Slay Fund for Social Justice

Founded by Drake University alumni Brent and Diane Slay, the Slay Fund for Social Justice is “an endowed fund that provides large and small grants to Drake students, staff and faculty engaged in the work of social justice.” With their assistance, projects like Spectrum are given the best opportunity to make an impact and promote social justice, not only on the university but on the community of Des Moines and society at large.

The Slay family “wanted to establish a fund at Drake which would be able to respond positively to a diverse group of needs that couldn’t be funded through traditional budget appropriations.” Spectrum of Faith is a collaborative effort that illustrates the good that can come from working together, especially in a world where misconception about religion threatens to divide the community. “The book illustrates, literally and figuratively, how people can be brought together through education and understanding.”

More than a treatise for social justice, out book is an active participant in creating solutions, as the proceeds from the book’s sales go towards the elimination of hunger in the greater Des Moines area. Future projects supported by the fund will be chosen by a ‘working group’ of faculty, staff and students, established by Dr. Renee Cramer. These individuals will vet proposals and make the ultimate decision in which organization will receive funding. The Drake Community Press and our partners have been grateful for the opportunity to work with the Slay Fund for Social Justice, and we appreciate the support given for A Spectrum of Faith.

Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation

As an honorary degree holder from Drake University, Dr. Deming is no stranger to the Bulldog family. His involvement with several fields at Drake, including the humanities and religion departments, led towards his partnership with Professor Tim Knepper and The Comparison Project. Deming is the founder of Above + Beyond Cancer, a public charity “with the mission to elevate the lives of those touched by cancer” by taking them on journeys across the world, and he has worked with the religion department at Drake University to serve an even deeper purpose.

Interfaith journeys with cancer survivors to locations such as Tibet and the Holy Land are supplemented by the understanding of various religions and how faith and culture intertwine. Bringing together those of dissimilar faiths, these individuals are united by their shared experience with cancer – connections built because “we are better together”.

In January of 2017, Deming led a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, where he and his team worked at a cancer hospital before climbing the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. When asked why each interfaith journey features climbing a mountain of some sort, Dr. Deming replied, “Out in nature, we are more connected to the universe. We are able to let go of personal possessions. [Climbing the mountains symbolizes] a pilgrimage of learning about yourself; it requires you to get out of your comfort zone and become part of something bigger than yourself.”

By working through the pain and the fear, anyone can push for that next step, one foot at a time. “Our secret weapon is hugs.  When someone gets discouraged, we give them a hug, but we also give them the courage to take just one more step.”

Dr. Deming, beyond being a financial supporter of A Spectrum of Faith, provides emotional support for the project as well. He has patients who practice each of the religions featured in the book, even if they do not all reside within those specific communities. “It is necessary to engage patients in conversations about their religion,” Dr. Deming adds, “Cancer is a powerful teacher; it reminds you that you will die. As a cancer doctor, I face mortality every day, and I have found that one’s religion can have a large impact on how certain patients will deal with their situation.”

DCP would like to give one final thank you to Dr. Deming for his continued support for the University and all its organizations and departments, as well as his continued work in the community. When asked if he had any words of wisdom to impart upon our readers, one quote came to mind: “We have the ability (under special circumstances) to transcend self-interest and lose ourselves (temporarily and ecstatically) in something larger than ourselves.” – Jonathan Haidt.

For more information on Dr. Deming’s foundations, check out Above + Beyond
Also, don’t forget to check out this video of Dr. Deming’s latest trip to Africa!


Photo and video provided by Dr. Richard Demings, courtesy of photographer Dylan Huey and videographer Dylan Trivette