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Panel presents talk on service

Amy Klopfenstein | Thursday, March 29, 2012

In preparation for Saturday’s CommUniversity Day, a panel of directors from South Bend service organizations addressed students about volunteering in the South Bend community Wednesday in DeBartolo Hall.

Milton Lee of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Sarah Stewart of Unity Gardens and Jennifer Knapp Beudert of the Robinson Community Learning Center discussed the struggles their organizations face in assisting the South Bend community.

Beudert said she is optimistic about the future of the South Bend community.

“Every day I get the chance to see great things happening for kids,” Beudert said.

The Robinson Center provides everything from youth after-school tutoring to senior computer classes, Beudert said, and it impacts an estimated 10,000 people through either direct or indirect means. Students have the opportunity to volunteer as tutors, as well as to participate in the Take Ten program, which focuses on teaching students conflict resolution techniques, she said.

Unity Gardens is a local non-profit that grows free healthy food for the community, and Stewart said it is difficult to ensure people have access to nutritious food.

“We can’t afford not to grow and share healthy food,” Stewart said.

Unity Gardens also focuses on community health and nutritional education, Stewart said. Through this organization, Stewart said she hopes to foster a connection among people, their community and the environment.

Lee said hunger-insecurity, particularly among youth, presents a major challenge to the South Bend community.  

“We want to ensure that kids have a healthier future, a brighter future,” Lee said.

Stewart said students should help out community organizations and create student advisory councils to work with local non-profit and for-profit companies.

Lee said students should become more socially conscious and interact with a wide variety of people.

“Make your world smaller and learn from other people,” Lee said.

Stewart also said students should pursue service opportunities within their areas of interest.

“Get involved with things that connect with your passion,” she said. “We will be changed and so will you.”

Beudert said many students are afraid of leaving campus, but through community involvement, they not only have rewarding experiences, but also develop a more positive attitude toward the South Bend community.

“Take care of yourself first, and through that strength you can give to others,” she said.

CommUniversity Day will take place Saturday, when students from Notre Dame, Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s and IUSB will volunteer at sites throughout South Bend to foster community involvement.