Mark Terrell’s life took a dramatic turn during his freshman year at Whitworth, when two of his friends died in a motorcycle accident. The news shook Terrell, ’94, who started reading the Bible and crying out to God. He felt led to study psychology and to “help God’s children.” Terrell began serving with Whitworth’s En Christo urban-ministry program; he worked with convicted teenagers in San Francisco during a summer internship; and after graduating, he got a job as a chaplain at a youth-correction facility.
In spring 1995, Terrell kept thinking about, and praying for, two Spokane homeless youth he met while he was a Whitworth student. When praying didn’t seem to be enough, he decided to start Cup of Cool Water, a non-profit ministry that shares the love and hope of Christ with youths who are homeless through developing healthy relationships and providing services. Terrell operated out of his car until the ministry transitioned through partnerships with several churches and moved into its own building in downtown Spokane in 2002.
Each week Terrell, several staff, and a team of 30-50 volunteers provide educational services, drug and alcohol counseling, and spiritual mentorship to hundreds of youths living on the streets. The youths visit Cup of Cool Water during drop-in times to receive a hot meal, take a shower, do laundry, study the Bible or play games. Youth also have the opportunity to gain job skills by working for Cool Water Bikes, a non-profit shop that refurbishes used bicycles.
In 2003, Whitworth awarded Terrell the Alumni Mind & Heart Award for his work with Cup of Cool Water, where many Whitworth students and alumni have volunteered since its founding. In 2005, in honor of the organization’s 10-year anniversary, the Whitworth senior class designated its class gift to support Cup of Cool Water and its mission to empower youth to become wholehearted followers of Christ and to exit street life.