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Center hosts service agencies

Carolyn Garcia | Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local non-profit organizations and student-run service groups joined together to showcase the plethora of social service opportunities available for Notre Dame students both on campus and in the South Bend community at the Social Concerns Fair on Wednesday.   

Annie Cahill Kelly, director of Community Partnership and Service Learning at the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), has invited South Bend service organizations to the Social Concerns Fair for 13 of the event’s more than 20 installments.

She said surveys from these partner organizations demonstrate the impressive participation of Notre Dame students in community outreach over the past few years.

“The agencies are reporting back to us that they’ve had over 3,000 student involved at all 60 organizations that I’ve petitioned,” Kelly said. “That’s not even a thorough count because it’s only 60 organizations and there are many more, but it’s a snapshot of just how many students are involved locally, providing some 180,000 plus hours of service. A lot of the students are doing a lot of great work.”

Several of the South Bend organizations represented at the fair have had a long history of involvement with the CSC.

AIDS Ministries/AIDS Assist of Northern Indiana, which provides a variety of services for people living with HIV and AIDS in the six-county area, has been associated with the CSC for more than 20 years, said Debra Stanley, the CSC’s Community-Based Learning Coordinator for the organization.

Stanley inherited the duty of representing AIDS Ministries at Notre Dame’s Activities Night when she began volunteering for the organization in 1992.

“I came that first night and have been coming ever since,” she said. “Being involved led me to the CSC where I became a Community-Based Learning Coordinator, and so it’s just been a relationship ever since.”

Student service groups also participated in the fair to distribute information and talk to potential volunteers.

Senior Monica Townsend represented the Notre Dame chapter of She’s the First, a non-profit organization that raises funds to promote education for girls in developing countries. Townsend said the group’s desire to expand their outreach efforts motivated its participation in the Social Concerns Fair.

“We are hoping this semester to branch out to the South Bend community and work with elementary schools that would like to get involved with She’s the First and think about what education means in the developing world, as well as at home,” Townsend said.

Freshman Libby Wetterer attended the fair to find service opportunities that fit her interests and schedule.

“I’m looking for volunteer work to do in Spanish for my Spanish class, and also for something to do over the weekends now that football is over,” Wetterer said.  

Wetterer said the fair introduced her to a volunteer opportunity at La Casa de Amistad, a community organization that provides bilingual tutoring.

Freshman Pat Boduch said he was excited about getting involved in service that would allow him to meet people from the South Bend community.

“It seems like mostly I’m around Notre Dame kids from ages 18 to 22,” said Boduch.”It would be refreshing to work with younger kids, and I think it’s good to serve the community as well.”