On Friday, January 25th, Isaiah Barnfield officially stepped down from his position as Resident Director of Founders Hall after working at Covenant for three and a half years. He has taken a job at Unum as a Short-Term Disability Benefit Specialist, which he said will involve reviewing insurance claims.
After his wife Haley had their daughter Olivia in September of 2017, Barnfield described how their family expenses significantly increased.
“I absolutely loved Covenant and being an RD in Founders, but I couldn’t afford to stay in the position financially,” Barnfield said. “My pay from Covenant was appropriate for the position, but my family expenses had outgrown the pay.”
Barnfield took sacrificial steps over the next year to save money by working another part time job and selling his Jeep to downgrade to a 2003 Volvo station wagon. Their family had saved just enough to pay for the upfront costs of a mortgage on a new home. Around the end of this past October, Barnfield received full support from his supervisor Jon Wylie, Associate Dean of Students, to begin seeking employment that better suited his family’s needs.
“Covenant was supportive throughout the whole process and I am thankful for everyone in leadership,” Barnfield said. “My job and coworkers were amazing.”
This did not come as a complete surprise to the Resident Assistants (RDs) of Founders. Joseph Welsh (‘20), the RD of Ekklesia, said that Barnfield had kept the staff posted on his progression toward seeking new employment throughout the 2018 fall semester. At their fall staff retreat, Barnfield updated his RAs about his job hunting which meant he might not finish out the entire academic year.
“My goal, however, was to find a job that would allow me to finish the school year,” Barnfield said. “Unfortunately, after going through the interview process and getting offered the position, I learned that I would be in a group that started training at the end of January 2019 instead of June 2019.”
Barnfield told the RAs of Founders near the beginning of January that he officially received the job at Unum and would have to leave by the end of the month.
“We are definitely sad to see him go because he has been an incredible asset to ResLife and especially to Founders and making it a really great place for people,” Mary Grace Donaldson (‘20), the RA of Highlands said. “But we also recognize that he has a growing family, and there are times when your stage of life needs to change.”
The Founders community threw Barnfield a surprise going away party in Third Lobby called “Bye-saiah” on Thursday, January 24th, the night before his last day at Covenant. Barnfield described it as a heart-warming experience.
“I felt appreciated and loved. Just looking out across the room and remembering different anecdotes was a trip down memory lane,” Barnfield said. “The fact that residents cared enough to show up meant a lot to me, and I am so thankful for the RAs who gave me a really cool coffee mug as a memento.”
Barnfield’s impact on the RAs will truly be missed. “He was a really encouraging person and someone that I could cut loose with and be pretty open with,” Welsh said. “I’m gonna really miss the staff meetings and his one-on-ones.”
Although Barnfield is no longer employed at Covenant, his legacy will continue in the Founders building. “Isaiah was really good at planning events, and getting people really excited about activities, and inspiring the staff to make Founders a better place,” Donaldson said. “There are a lot of things I’ve learned from him that I’m putting into practice even though he’s not my boss anymore, because I know that these are things he would tell me to do.”
Starting February 1st, Hannah Bloomquist, the current RD of Andreas, officially accepted the interim Founders RD role.
“I hear nothing but wonderful things about the Founders RA staff as well as the Founders community,” Bloomquist said, “I feel excited to jump in and provide encouragement and support wherever it might be needed.”
Wylie explained that Bloomquist will be taking on the relational side of the position, leading the staff meetings and one-on-ones with the RA staff, while he will oversee the other logistical aspects of the RD role, helping with the hiring process and rooming assignments.
“The thing that I love about this position is [Hannah] is going to be able to step in and supervise but also be able to provide the discipleship piece of the supervision, which makes my heart happy,” Wylie said.
Wylie confirmed that Dean Brad Voyles and the ResLife staff has completely supported Barnfield with this decision. “I love that [Dean Voyles] created space and said let’s love Isaiah well, let’s create a game plan that’s going to love the students well and this interim, and let’s watch to see what the Lord does,” Wylie said. “I think that the Lord is being faithful through all of this actually, which has been really neat.”
Welsh said that although he is really going to miss Barnfield, he is looking forward to Bloomquist’s perspective and ability to draw out new things from the current RA staff. “She has always had really valuable things to say that have made me think,” Welsh said. “Hopefully it will mean that I grow even more.”
Although looking forward to this new stage of life with his family, Barnfield said he will greatly miss the integration of faith directly with his work and having relationships with students and his RAs. “I loved my job and department the entire time,” Barnfield said. “I hope that Olivia will go to Covenant when she grows up.”