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ROTC club focuses on helping community

Molly Madden | Thursday, December 10, 2009

Members of Notre Dame’s Army ROTC are getting a jump-start on their career of service by participating in a club that promotes volunteer work throughout the greater community.

Members of the battalion recently resurrected the service club Alliance To Lead And To Serve (ATLAS).

The club has been dormant in the past but was recently brought back because of efforts made by Valparaiso University senior Kailyn van Beckhum and Notre Dame junior Geralyn Janke.

“We heard that there was this fourth club in ROTC that no one was doing anything with,” ATLAS vice president Janke said. “It’s turned out to be a really good thing.”

“We really want to focus on the South Bend and Elkhart areas because there is such a need there,” ATLAS president Beckhum said. “We have a few members that are from those areas so that was also significant.”

The club participates in one volunteer project each month and members try to organize a wide variety of service projects. This semester, Janke said, the club has organized a blood drive, painted the parking lot at the Robinson Community Center, organized a food and clothing drive for the Salvation Army and have currently adopted a family for the Christmas season.

“We’re really excited about the mother and daughter that we adopted,” Janke said. “We’re collecting donations to buy presents for the three-year-old girl and a gift card for groceries for the mother.”

Variety of projects is an important focus of the club as well as an important aspect of the mission of Army ROTC as a whole, sophomore ATLAS member Mihai Iancu said.

“It’s important to learn to work with people in different situations,” he said. “We want to show the diversity of the military and that we’re about more than warfare.”

ATLAS, which currently has 20 members, is hoping to expand and get more cadets involved so that they can expand on the level of their service projects.

“The more people we have the more we can do,” Janke said.

ATLAS’s first event of the new semester is the construction of a house for a family in need through the group Rebuilding Together. Van Beckhum hopes to increase club membership so that there can be more labor oriented service within the club.

“This is a group where we have the manpower to do labor,” she said. “We don’t necessarily have the financial resources to raise money for a cause every month.”

Devotion to service is a familiar value within the ROTC community and Janke and van Beckhum see ATLAS as a means of preparation for the cadets’ future careers as member of the U.S. military.

“Our future is all about service,” Janke said. “It’s all we’re going to be doing.”

Van Beckhum says ATLAS builds on the mission of the military but community service should never just be about preparation for the future.

“It is important for ROTC because the military serves everyday,” she said. “But it’s something you should do without even thinking. ATLAS’s focus is about trying to do that little extra to make the community better.”