ISSUED: 13 November 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Regents Bachelor of Arts (R.B.A.) students from Shepherd University recently spent an evening having Dinner with Strangers at the Martinsburg home of John and Geneva Yost. Students who attended the dinner were Theresa Barb, Shepherdstown; Mary Brown, Berkeley Springs; Dana Burcker-Britto, Martinsburg; Donna Miller, Falling Waters; Lisa Sorrentino-Miller, Bunker Hill; and Virgie Moore, Charles Town.
“Geneva and I were delighted to host the event,” John Yost said. “Everyone was chatty and congenial. The informal atmosphere seemed to put everyone at ease. Everyone seemed to enjoy one another’s company.”
After dinner, Yost, who is a retired United Methodist minister, shared his story of moving from one career into another. He posed two questions for the group of students to consider—given their current education track, would they still be in demand 20 years from now, and what did they consider their overall purpose in life?
“I think these questions surprised them, but it made them think ahead and they responded admirably,” Yost said. “The Dinner with Strangers experience was rewarding for me. I hope and trust it was useful for our guests. I wish them all our best, and hope their futures will be bright and fulfilling.”
The R.B.A. program offers adults flexibility and choices that include compressed classes, the option to receive credit for life and work experience, and the ability to take online and evening classes.
Miller said she is honored she was asked to take part in the Dinner with Strangers program.
“The Yosts were wonderful hosts,” Miller said. “They reminded us of the importance of always having a purpose in life, as well as the significance of serving others. I was reminded of the events in my life that encouraged and led me to pursue a master’s degree in the college student development and administration at Shepherd. It is important for students to think about the bigger picture in life, outside of the daily academic path on which we navigate. The Dinner with Strangers program reiterates the fact that we grow from the love and support of those who we interact with each day. It is our choice to take the good from our experiences in life or let them pass by.”
Moore described the Yosts as down to earth and excellent hosts.
“They made you feel like a friend of the family instead of a stranger,” Moore said. “Their home was inviting, warm, and full of love. Mr. Yost passed on a lot of wisdom and helpful advice. There was a definite common bond between all the R.B.A. students who were present. What each of us shared gave everyone the incentive that we needed as older adults to reach our desired goal. I was glad that I was able to participate because it was truly a great learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Thanks to President Hendrix for starting this program!”
“I thought the Dinner with a Stranger program was awesome, even though a couple of people were not strangers to me,” Brown said. “Pastor Yost and his wife were absolutely the best hosts and I love that afterwards he offered words of wisdom to us and we got to learn a little bit about each person in the room. I was so honored to be included.”
Burcker-Britto called the Dinner with Strangers a great opportunity and said she enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories.
“I also found it to be very inspiring and had appreciation for the thought-provoking questions,” Burcker-Britto said. “I think that this is a great program and I found it to be very fun, and having dinner with people you do not know will surely bring you out of your shell. I will say that even though when we arrived we were strangers, I do not feel that by the end of the evening that we felt that way.”
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