Our Impact

Since FoundationONE was organized in 2004, it has awarded nearly 2000 scholarships. These scholarships have deeply impacted the individual students.

Moises Ramirez’





Polly’s Story

The Ruud Family

Andrea’s Story

Joe’s Story

Joe’s Story

Joe arrived at UCA as a freshman. His mother had just lost a long battle with cancer, and he and his siblings had been parceled out to whoever would have them. It was a rough school year—Joe struggled with grades, appropriate behavior, and relationships. He quickly became the centerpiece of many faculty prayer sessions.

Joe received a grant from FoundationOne, funding from other sources, and faithfully worked off as much of his school bill as possible. Without backing from home, however, his bill began to mount. By late in his sophomore year he was facing a financial crisis. The UCA faculty and staff prayed and told their friends about Joe’s need. Miracle dollars began to pour in—enough to cover not only his bill, but also the bills of 12 other students who also were in financial crisis!

His junior year Joe decided he wanted to go on the mission trip, but, of course, he didn’t have the money. This time HE prayed, day after day. Would God answer HIS prayer? Days turned into weeks and he was tempted to give up. Finally, just before the deadline to purchase tickets, a donation came in. Joe was ecstatic—not only could he go, but God had honored HIS prayer!

Joe admired his dean of men, John Willis. One evening Joe cornered him, “Hey Dean. . . how do you become a leader around here?” Dean sat down with Joe and they talked late into the night—about how to become a Christian gentleman, a caring friend, an involved church member, a responsible leader.

Joe followed Dean Willis’ advice and became a Resident Assistant and got involved with the Student Association and campus ministries. “The UCA staff mentored me in leadership,” he says, “and it was such a great year!”

Joe’s experience on the UCA gymnastic team pointed him toward a career goal. Following graduation Joe spent some time in Puerto Rico where he served as an assistant coach for a gymnastics team. He says, “I found myself drawn to those who got injured. Watching them struggle to maintain hope while working hard to get well reminded me of my own journey. It just felt good to help them and encourage them. Thus I have decided to become a Physical Therapist. It is where I belong.”

Joe has taken some classwork toward a Physical Therapy major. However, he is taking it slowly, working as a PT Aid and taking classwork as he is able. “I don’t mind,” he says. “At UCA I learned that hard work gets you places.”

Joe hopes one day to get married, have a family, and go on mission trips. Short term or long term—it doesn’t matter—Joe is open to however God may lead. He says, “I love going on mission trips because I sometimes lose perspective and think everyone has more than I have. Then I go on a mission and I find people with less, contented and praising God. It puts me in my place! I also like missions because many people have helped me along the way and through missions I get to pay some of that forward.”

Joe is eager to acknowledge some of the people who mentored him: “When I was tempted to give up, Mr. Soule would say, ‘Man up, Joe.’ Mrs. Turner would give me some motherly love. Pastor Fred would pray with me. And Mrs. Wickward would give me some motherly advice. I will never, ever forget those wonderful people. They had a profound influence on my life.”

Joe hopes to live his life so that his children and grandchildren will remember him as someone who always noticed and responded to people in need—emotional, physical, financial—whatever the need, Joe would always help.

Joe says “So much of what I do every day is what I learned at UCA. I would not be where I am without those wonderful people. They prayed for me, shared their wisdom with me, taught me how to work, and modeled how to live. Their guidance put me on a positive course, and there are no words to express my gratitude. Of course, I also owe a debt of gratitude to the UCA Foundation and the many people—some of them I don’t even know—who helped to fund my UCA education.”

Moises Ramirez’ Story

Just one year ago Moises was an angry, disrespectful, rebellious teenager. But now, thanks to FoundationONE donors, he is growing in the happy, healthy community at Upper Columbia Academy, and becoming the man God created him to be.  
Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez had already raised a family of seven. One day, Child Protective Services called to tell them about four children, ages one to four, who were in a terrible situation. The agency had tried placing the children in seven different foster homes, but none of them could handle the children. Could the Ramirez family provide a safe place for the children?   
Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez agreed to try. The days stretched into months, and the months to five years. When Moises (the oldest) was nine, the social worker said, “It is time to decide. Do you want to adopt this family? Or shall we find other homes for them?”   
“I had been very unkind to my foster parents,” says Moises. “I was angry because my birth parents had given me up, and I blamed my foster parents. Now, at the prospect of being separated from Mom and Dad Ramirez, I began to recall all the things they had done for me and my siblings. . . the birthday parties, the love and acceptance, the things they had taught us. What would happen to us if they said no? Maybe we kids wouldn’t be together anymore. I felt an enormous responsibility, and I fell to my knees and begged Mom to keep us, promising to be a good and faithful son.”   
Fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez decided to adopt all five (the fifth sibling was born after the first four had joined the Ramirez family, and they graciously took him in too). The children celebrated their adoption by changing their names. Moises says, “Changing my name was easy, but changing my attitude was not!”  
Moises progressed on to middle school and then to high school, each year he became more and more rebellious. He talked back. He disrupted class. He got into fights. Moises spent time in detention, he was suspended from school, but nothing helped. “I excused my behavior,” Moises says, “because my parents left me. I told myself, there’s no one here for me. Why try?”  
When Moises was 14, Mr. Ramirez died. Mrs. Ramirez did her best to help her children. She took them to church — a Pentecostal church. Moises became the leader of the church youth group. On Sunday he could talk the talk, but on Monday he was back to being a rebel. Moises was getting very discouraged with himself.   
Mrs. Ramirez went to the food bank each week to pick up food for her family. One day, while at the food bank, she heard about some Bible studies that were being held in the back room. At first she declined. But her friend kept insisting, and finally, one day, she stayed.   
“When mom got home that day,” Moises says, “She was super happy! She told us kids the Bible story. The following week us kids skipped school and we all went to the food bank with mom!” Blanca, a member of the All Nations Center Adventist Church in Wapato, WA, was the leader of the Bible study. As Moises learned about Jesus, hope began to spring up in his heart.   
That summer (2018), Moises got jobs working in the orchards of two Adventist church members. When the church held its VBS, his employers encouraged him to attend. The more he learned, the more he wanted to follow Jesus. “The whole world came down on me,” he says. “I realized that I was wrong in not appreciating what God had given me. I could see how God had protected me and provided for me all through my life. I broke down and cried out to Jesus. I told Him I wanted Him in my life.”   
One afternoon, Moises talked with two of the VBS leaders — Danny Stratte and Katie Cook. They told Moises about Upper Columbia Academy and suggested he try to enroll. I thought, “Maybe if I go to UCA, I can find God; maybe I really can change!”   
Danny and Katie connected Moises’ mother with the UCA recruiter. “There were many discussions,” says Moises, “and finally, we decided to give UCA a try.” On registration day, Mrs. Backman (UCA’s VP for Finance) made the four-hour drive to Wapato to pick up Moises. By the time they got back to UCA it was 11:00 p.m. Moises was delighted to be on campus — he was ready to turn a new leaf!   
“It’s been wonderful to be part of the UCA family,” he says. “It is very different from public school. The students here are very close. They pray for each other. There is no discrimination. We have discussions, maybe even disagreements, but we still respect each other. The dorm is one big brotherhood. My favorite classes are Bible and Biology. I’ve joined the preaching team. I’ll be preaching my very first sermon soon!”  
I now see things differently. I see that God has protected me all along. While I did a lot of bad things, for some reason He spared me from becoming addicted or ruining my life in other ways. I’m not sure why God stuck around for me. It’s wonderful to think that God wants me, and that He is willing to pour out His gifts through me. Someday I hope to find my biological parents and tell them about Jesus and help them understand that He will give them a second chance too.”

Andrea’s Story

She was a confused, broken teen, bent on ending her own life. But unconditional love and prayer changed her life forever.

When Andrea read in her older sister’s journal, “I feel God at UCA,” Andrea decided that, when she was old enough, she would go to UCA. She hoped UCA would take her troubles away. But by the third week of her freshman year, she felt herself falling into a deeper depression than she had known before.

Andrea decided on a plan. She would commit suicide, and she would do it during the freshman campout. On the night appointed she waited for all the students and staff to go to bed. When almost everyone had gone to their tents she sat at the campfire alone, feeling empty and angry at God. Her purpose in staying up after everyone else was to yell at God one more time and then go to bed and never wake up again.

Finally everyone was asleep. She was happy to be alone at last! Now she could carry out the actions her aching heart craved. But God interrupted her plans by sending Pastor Matt, who had been walking around in the woods with a small group of her classmates. They came and sat down near the campfire to pray. When he saw Andrea, he invited her to join them. Andrea says, “I was angry with God. I wanted to yell at him! I wanted to put Him in His place! But when it came my turn to pray, these are the words that came out of my mouth: ’Thank you for saving me, in more than one way, tonight.’”

Sitting there on the log by the campfire, Andrea felt and understood clearer than ever before God’s love and sacrifice in sending Jesus to die for her sins. That night Andrea accepted Jesus into her broken heart and thus began a long process of healing.

Andrea’s enemy (Satan) didn’t like her decision. Not at all! He crafted one trial after another. Andrea tried desperately to cling to her new Friend (Jesus), but she had a lot of bad habits. Sometimes she succumbed to her old addictions. Thus, her freshman year was very tumultuous. Finally, just before the end of the school year, Andrea was asked to leave UCA. She was just too unstable to participate in the educational program.

Andrea went to live with her grandparents. “It was all a part of God’s plan,” she says, “I had been introduced to God, and I understood how to succeed in the Christian life. So every morning I got up at 4:00 a.m., went to my comfy chair on the porch, and watched the sun come up as I read my devotional book and prayed.”

One day, toward the end of the summer Andrea looked into the mirror and said, “Wow! This is the first day that I don’t feel like killing myself!”

Andrea believes that persevering in one’s relationship with God is important. Some mornings she didn’t feel like rolling out of bed, much less spending time with God. “But,” she says, “I found great healing power in worship.”

The following year Andrea was back at UCA. She had more ups and downs, but the ups were getting longer and the downs were getting shorter.

Andrea can’t say enough good words about the UCA faculty. “They truly serve from their hearts,” she says. “During my difficult freshman year, I went to one teacher’s house and cried most every day. He and his wife lovingly cared for me and prayed for me. Another teacher took me in every time I got suspended. Another faculty member bought me long sleeve shirts after my arms were badly cut up from self-harm. Another noticed that I was embarrassed with my crooked teeth and arranged for an orthodontist to fix them. That kind of unconditional love was very healing, very life changing!”

Friends were also important to Andrea’s healing process. Her junior year she roomed with Amanda Bauer whose friend group welcomed her with open arms. Those friendship bonds profoundly impacted her life, and by the time she graduated in 2010, Andrea had developed confidence as a leader. She became a speaker for a week of prayer and she served as the assistant head resident assistant her senior year.

Following graduation, Andrea took a Bible Worker training course and began giving bible studies. While this work was fulfilling, Andrea found herself longing to work with youth. She began to pray about it.

Then one day in December of 2012 Andrea received a Facebook message from Chelle Hess, a friend and the girls’ dean at UCA. Chelle was messaging her to see if she would serve as an assistant girls’ dean. Andrea accepted the call and she just recently finished her second year back at UCA. She says, “The teenage years are a very delicate stage of life. It is fun to be a part of the girls’ lives, to watch them mature into the women God created them to be. God is giving me the privilege of passing along some of the hugs, smiles, and encouraging words that helped me so much!”

Polly’s Story

Listen to Polly share her experience.

Three weeks after I was born, I was taken away from my birth mother and put into a foster home, because my mother was not fit to raise a child in her current state. My foster family was not planning to keep me for more than two weeks. But two weeks turned into two months, and two months turned into two years, and by then the Officer family was completely and totally in love with me, and they adopted me.

I’m not the only one who has been adopted. Actually, I am one of 16 children, with ages ranging from 36 to three. If you count down from oldest to youngest, I’m number ten. I was raised in a beautiful Adventist home in Inchelium, Washington which is approximately an hour from the Canadian border.

Music is my oxygen, without it I would suffocate. Music has always been a huge part of my life. As far back as I can remember I was singing in a trio with my two older sisters, Suzanna and Samantha. If I was cleaning, studying, or competing, I was always singing. My parents were always supportive of my music, supplying me with lessons for violin and piano, and taking me to the local children’s choir and orchestra to expand my musical horizons.

I heard about Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) throughout my childhood, primarily from my youth director in my home church. Every time she got a chance, she would tell us about how UCA was a Christ- centered school, with amazing academics, and a wonderful faculty. Suzanna and I always dreamed of going, but knew we couldn’t afford it.

In the winter of 2009, my grandmother took me on a very special trip and I got to go to the “Christmas at the Fox” concert that UCA holds every year. I was blown away! And I remember thinking afterward how awesome it would be to go to a school like UCA.

I talked with my parents frequently about the possibility of going Upper Columbia Academy, but the answer was always the same, “We can’t afford to send you to a private school, and besides, we don’t like the idea of you leaving home so soon.”

Slowly, UCA faded from my mind. I continued my home-school education until 7th grade, when I switched to a little Christian K-12 school. Then my sister, Suzanna, decided that she had go to UCA! She prayed and pushed forward and eventually she convinced my parents that UCA’s environment was positive and nurturing, teaching responsibility and other good things and, in the end, through hard work, scholarships and God, she was able to enroll.

The fact that Suzanna got to go reopened my mind to the possibility. Still, it was difficult to envision. How could my family ever manage with two students at a private school? I decided to pray about it. It would definitely take a miracle!

Eventually my father talked with the financial advisor at the school, Debbie Nelson, and discovered that I would qualify for a FoundationONE scholarship. I applied, and won a scholarship! Thus I was able to come to UCA for my sophomore year.

Now I am a junior, and a very active one. I play violin in the orchestra and I am a member of Choraliers (the select choir). I enjoy every single millisecond of UCA’s music program. When we perform and I see the way that we impact people’s lives through God’s precious gift of music, it literally blows me away.

I am also involved with sharing God’s love—anything from raking someone’s yard, to writing a card of encouragement to a homesick dorm student. This year, I am also attempting to go on a mission trip to India, in March, to share the gospel.

Actually, everything about UCA is wonderful. The people are super friendly and caring. The faculty couldn’t be more encouraging and loving. They literally make you feel right at home the second you step foot on campus. They are also a huge spiritual influence. The academics, which strengthen you and prepare you for the real world, are also excellent.

Besides being adopted by the Officer family, UCA is the best thing that has ever happened to me! I would recommend it to anyone. I cherish every minute I have on this campus, and I thank all of those generous hearts who have helped not only me, but many others to have this “experience of a lifetime.” Thank you, and God bless.

The Ruud Family Story

Listen to the Ruud family share their experience.

When we had our precious kids, we decided to home school them. It was an incredible blessing, and the time flew by. Before we knew it, our son, Niqolas, was ready for high school. Our only option in Ellensburg, WA was the local public school.

We thought about UCA, but we knew there was no way we could pay for a private education. My husband, Sean, had a good job, but I've been ill for 11 years with Lyme disease and co-infections. We spend anywhere from $2000-$4000 per month on my medical treatment.

Thus we were fearful as we thought about the education of our children. We began to pray and ask questions. Debbie Nelson (VP for Finance at UCA) connected us with some scholarship monies, including one from FoundationONE. Niq got a job, and—miracle of miracles—we discovered that the monthly payments were doable!

So, through buckets of tears, we took Niq to UCA. He loved it from the start. His sophomore year began as did his freshman year—with God and His people providing the necessary financial aid. But, mid-year my husband, Sean, lost his job.

I called Debbie Nelson in tears! Unless God intervened, we would have to pull Niq out of UCA and send him to public school. Within 48 hours Debbie called me back and said that God had provided. FoundationONE had had an excellent year and was able to provide some additional funding, and a few others had pledged to help too. Niq could stay!

My husband tried to find a steady job in Ellensburg, but ended up doing odd jobs. It was enough to put food on the table and make the house payment. We had to borrow money for my medical treatment and medications, and we were going into debt rapidly.

Before long it was time to figure out what to do for both Niq and Kate. Niq was ready for his junior year and Kate for her freshman year. The kids and I wrote over 100 letters to our family and friends asking for help so that they to go to UCA.

Amazingly, our family and friends showered our kids with love and commitments and we also received more financial aid from FoundationONE. Halfway through that school year my husband found work. Although it was in South Dakota and didn't pay very well, it turned out to be a blessing for it was there that we found some helpful alternative treatments. So we sold our house in Ellensburg, used the money to pay off my medical debt, and made the move.

As you can imagine, it was terribly difficult being so far away from our children. We are a close family, and we treasure every minute with our growing teens. But we were willing to make the sacrifice because we believe Christian education is important… both for the present world and for the world to come.

Toward the end of the school year, God opened up a way for us to move back closer to them. Sean got a part time job in Pendleton, OR. Unfortunately we didn't have money for a house, as it had been used up to pay off my medical expenses. We ended up living with Sean's parents until we could find other living arrangements.

Suddenly, Niq's senior year and Kate's sophomore year was upon us. Thankfully, we had some credit from the generosity of our friends and family. That got us started. Then both kids applied and Kate received another grant from FoundationONE (Niq didn’t need one). It looks like Niq will be able to graduate without a bill, and hopefully by year end we won’t owe very much for Kate either.

We praise God for His provision for our family. We treasure our children and know that their time at UCA has been and continues to be a blessing. Upper Columbia Academy is a place of preparation and development for our children, a place where God’s Spirit communicates His purpose, and life-changing decisions are made. Our children have an amazing walk with the Lord. We couldn't ask for anything more!

To all the generous people who have ever given to the FoundationONE endowment, I want to say Thank you! You have helped make dreams come true for me and my family.

Emma's Story

Listen to Emma share her experience.

Danny's Story

Listen to Danny share his experience.

Heather's Story

Listen to Heather share her experience.

Sid's Story

Listen to Sid share his experience.