Meet the Staff

Staff

Jon Berends, Program Director

In 2018, Jon moved to Hamilton to develop and launch Act Five. He lives here with his wife, Aimee, and their three young children, and they are growing to love this place more and more. Along with a background in high school education and a Master’s in Theological Studies, Jon brings to Act Five a love for discipling young people, developing new creative approaches to education, adventures in the wilderness and all that community life has to offer.

Seeing Act Five take off these past few years has been amazing to witness, and Jon is grateful and excited to see what God has in store for another group of students for 2022-2023!

You can contact Jon directly at jberends@redeemer.ca.

Alyssa Zilney, Program Lead

Alyssa moved to Hamilton in 2015 to complete a degree in Community Development and Environmental Studies, and quickly fell in love with the city. She joined Act Five in 2019, moving into the Act Five residence to welcome the very first cohort of students. Now three years later, she is overseeing our gap year program’s day-to-day operations.

Alyssa has seven years of experience living in various intentional Christian communities, and continues to live in Act Five’s neighbourhood with her husband, David. She is an enthusiastic lover of good food, growing vegetables, and living life in the city alongside others. Alyssa has a heart for discipleship, Christian community, and the place-based nature of Act Five. She loves learning alongside students and seeing them explore new perspectives and discover their gifts. Alyssa can often be found excitedly touring people through the gardens of Blake St when not eating, sleeping, working, or hanging out with friends.

Lena Scholman, Spiritual Life Facilitator & Faculty

Lena Scholman first fell for Hamilton in 1997, looking out at the city from Sam Lawrence Park. She put down roots in the east end twenty years later and has been discovering the secrets of this evolving metropolis ever since. An educator, storyteller, wife and mother, Lena is committed both to the TrueCity movement­ and New Hope Church, the faith community that has nurtured her faith for the past decade. Transformed by a gap year abroad years ago, she is thrilled to walk alongside young people at Act Five and bear witness to lives changed through intentional living — rooted in place and anchored in Jesus.

Abby Lobert, Enrolment Advisor

Abby is returning to Act Five to lead our admissions work after two years as a Resident Leader. Abby came to Act Five in 2020 after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Social Development Studies. She is particularly interested in education, community development, and restorative justice and finds that Act Five is a wonderful place to keep learning about these things. Abby has come to love the Blakeley neighbourhood and the people that are connected to Act Five. She has seen God on the move in these places and people and is expectant of what is coming next. She’s excited to continue connecting with past, present, and future Act Five gap year students!

David Schuurman, Program Manager

David came to Act Five after a year and a half on staff with CityKidz. After two years as a Resident Leader, David now leads and oversees significant aspects of Act Five’s administrations. He is passionate about community organizing, learning from those in poverty, living in community, and walking alongside young people as they discover their callings.

David is a 2019 Redeemer alumnus with a degree in International Development and minors in Environmental Studies and Business. He can often be found biking, hammocking, volunteering, reading, hanging out with friends, and eating shawarma around Hamilton.

Jessica Star, Resident Leader

Jessica just completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BScN) at McMaster Univerisity (2022). She is passionate about engaging and serving missionally in Hamilton, reaching underserved and marginalized populations to show them the love of Jesus. Jessica enjoys fostering community by developing deep relationships with people through intentional presence, conversation, and engagement. She has an inquisitive spirit which cultivates life-long learning, curiosity, and exploration. Jessica loves exploring the beautiful outdoor spaces in Hamilton, rock climbing, worshiping through music, and sharing meals with others. Jessica is excited about rooting in the Blakely neighbourhood and walking alongside the 2022-23 Act Five cohort as they pursue personal and spiritual growth through conversations, experiences, and adventures.

Faculty

Pastor Willemina Zwart, Faculty for The Six Acts

Pastor Willemina is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church and has been called by Immanuel CRC, Simcoe as the missional pastor of a new summer ministry initiative for young adults called the South Coast Beach Project (SCBP). Her ministry experience includes six years campus ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach and almost 17 years CRC congregational ministry—most recently at Good News CRC in London, Ontario. She moved to Port Dover along with her recently retired husband, Kelly. Her passion is to walk alongside young adults as they discover more deeply the person of Jesus Christ and the adventure of living out a kingdom-shaped life. She is thrilled to return as part of the teaching team of Act Five for the coming year!

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