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Community - Campus Day of Service

April 5, 2014

On Saturday, April 5th, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign kicked off National Volunteer Week with an inaugural Community-Campus Day of Service. Over 60 students, faculty and staff worked with six community partners on seven projects to complete pre-construction projects, community garden spring preparation projects, flyering in the community, reorganizing classrooms at Tap in Leadership Academy, cataloging choral literature, and preparing a Bee Garden. A big thank you goes out to all who helped on April 5!

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Enriching perspectives through community engagement

Outreach Weekend Report - February 24-25, 2012

Weekend Summary
This weekend 20 University students made the hour long trek out to Decatur Illinois for our first outreach weekend working with Old Kings Orchard Community Center. The community center is situated in the center of Old Kings Orchard Neighborhood; a neighborhood known for its poverty, crime rate, prostitution, and poor living conditions.

When we arrived students were greeted by Alida Graham and several members of the Old Kings Orchard Board. One of the board members, who has been an advocate in the community for years, graciously volunteered her time to give us a historical perspective of the neighborhood and the city. This was a very eye opening time for many of the students. Following the informational session, the board members took us out on a walking tour throughout the neighborhood. In a matter of minutes students were face to face with a level of poverty many of them had never seen before, or even knew existed. We saw men and women living in condemned houses, using windows to gain access. We even saw several men gathered around a large bonfire (these men live at this fire). While on the tour, students were encouraged to hand out flyers for a community “Cook In” at Old Kings Orchard Community Center on Saturday afternoon. Upon the completion of the tour, students had the unique opportunity to eat lunch at The Good Samaritan, a soup kitchen in the neighborhood. This was an incredible experience for the students, as they got to sit down and talk with men and women who literally had nothing.

Later in the afternoon our group split into two. Half of the group returned to Old Kings Orchard Community Center to begin clearing out a room, in preparation for a computer lab installation by Martin Wolske, and a group of LIS students. The remaining students stayed at The Good Samaritan and assisted them with their operations. A few students were asked to sort out donated meat and organize it in the walk in freezer. Other students painted parts of the kitchen storage area and the dining room. These are tasks that need to be completed at the Good Samaritan, however because they are so irregular, they cannot afford to spare the manpower when they arise. When these projects are completed we wrap up for the day and head back to Champaign

On Saturday, when we arrive at Old Kings Orchard Community Center, some students begin preparations for our afternoon “Cook In”, while others assemble groups to visit homes in the neighborhood, in need of smoke detectors. These groups canvassing the neighborhood are accompanied by a police escort, who has worked in the area for several years. Students received answers at about half of the homes they were schedule to visit. When the students entered the homes they were confronted with the reality of how the residents live. Its begins to give poverty a new meaning. As the afternoon draws near, residents begin approaching for the “Cook In”. When they arrive they are served a baked potato and/or a hotdog and chilli. This truly made their day. Students were mingling with the residents while they ate, lending an ear to anything the residents wanted to talk about. Old Kings Orchard provided the students with a short questionnaire they can use as a guide in conversing with the residents. This was a great way for students to get personal with the residents, and really understand the struggles and hardships they face everyday.

Simultaneously, a small group of students worked at Prosperity Gardens on Saturday morning. This group of students began the installation of Hoop house’s in the garden in preparation for the April Outreach Weekend. The students were able to install 6 hoop houses with the help of Nicole Bridges, who is the director of Prosperity Gardens. -Chase Miller




 
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