Providing for Practical Needs
|Claudia Pech (in
background) and Sarah Mackey assist with painting at Sacred Heart School|
Most students at
Union College devote a day of canceled classes each fall to general
community outreach. Some get more specific and put knowledge they’ve
gained in class to functional use. Whatever his or her skills and talents
may be, each student in every field of study has a chance to help someone
Helping in small ways
with large numbers
Nothing typifies Union’s
spirit of service more accurately than Project Impact. At the beginning of
each school year, Lincoln is splashed with color as students wearing matching
T-shirts serve for a day. This year students spent the morning and early
afternoon at 51 sites across the city.
Jesse Proctor, this
year’s student coordinator, said that about 80 percent of the school’s
students, faculty and staff turns out for the event each year. In only four
hours, volunteers can achieve what would take one full-time laborer a year and
three months to accomplish alone.
Project Impact grew out
of Project Brush, which began in 1981 with the goal of painting 100 houses for
elderly or disabled Lincoln residents. After the goal was met, Project was
established in 1992 as an annual day of broader service.
Service has become a
prominent part of Union’s identity in the community. Even before this year’s
Project Impact, Shanna Letcher, volunteer manager at Cedars Youth Services,
said, “I look forward to this time of year because I get to meet and greet all
the great Union students. They’re never negative; they’re always so cheerful.
It’s like they really want to be here.”
Project Impact not only
provides practical help in the Lincoln area for one day, but also facilitates
contact between students and the many service organizations in the community.
Letcher mentioned that several students return to volunteer again after their
introduction to the organization through Project Impact.
A call to action
When first-time visitors
attend Sabbath Experience, the college Sabbath school, they may be surprised
to see SOS printed on the announcements. Rather than a cry of distress, SOS in
this case is a call to action. Something on Sabbath is a program of Sabbath
afternoon activities organized and participated in by students.
Some sing to patients in
hospitals and nursing homes. Some serve food at a soup kitchen. Others tell
stories to children. Whatever the activity may be, the intent is to exemplify
Jesus’ directive “to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:12, NIV).
Justin Okimi, a student
chaplain and former SOS leader, says this year’s student coordinators have
come together more quickly than any he’s seen before. “Usually it takes a few
months to get all the pieces in place,” he said. “We’re looking forward to an
exciting year because of that jumpstart.”
Also during Sabbath
Experience, an offering is taken up each week. The destination of the
collected money is ever changing and almost always initiated by a student on
behalf of a person or organization in need. In September an offering went to
disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina.
Union College’s relief
efforts don’t end on Sabbath. Campus Ministries collected donations to
purchase materials for personal care kits for hurricane survivors. Inside the
kits are adhesive bandages, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of
soap, shampoo, a comb and brush, two nail files, and a razor and shaving
Tender loving (foot)
Sore feet can ruin a
good day for anyone. The nursing and physician assistant programs at Union
College have found a way of meeting a simple but essential need for
underprivileged people: foot care.
About 10 times
throughout the school year, nursing and physician assistant faculty and
students tend to the feet of members of the community who are homeless or
nearly homeless. These individuals receive a pair of socks at each clinic they
attend, and a pair of shoes every six months. The socks, the shoes and the
clinical service, which involves washing the client’s feet in warm, soapy
water, medically examining the feet and lower legs, trimming the nails
and—only for those who are interested—painting the nails, is provided free of
Earl Pate, associate
director of the physician assistant program, said, “The foot clinic is a
marvelous opportunity for students to gain firsthand experience in the
provision of services to an underserved population.”
Materials for foot
clinics are funded through a community endowment fund and the labor is
voluntary. At each clinic, an average of about 30 adults receive care. One
clinic per year is held in August, exclusively for children as a
back-to-school benefit. This year 78 school age children attended, though the
number of kids has been as high as 90. This year the clinic is held at Matt
Talbot Kitchen & Outreach.