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Center for Social Concerns hosts service fair

| Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) hosted a fair Wednesday night to connect students with over 30 South Bend service organizations and student-led volunteer groups. 

The fair allows students to find ways to interact with the South Bend community, Annie Cahill Kelly, director of community partnerships and service learning for the Center for Social Concerns, said.

“The Social Concerns fair is an opportunity for students to meet directly with community partners … to become more engaged in the local community through service, through community based learning [and] through research,” Cahill Kelly said.

Cahill Kelly said the fair ties into the Walk the Walk Week theme of service and allows students to integrate it into their everyday lives.

“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the actual day itself, people are encouraged to engage in service,” Cahill Kelly said. “But what’s nice about this — certainly following Dr. King’s message and the University mission — this is an opportunity to become involved for the entire semester and hopefully beyond for all the years the students are here.”

Sophomore Montana Crowell said she attended the fair to help her continue to volunteer after working at a homeless shelter during winter break.

“I worked at a homeless shelter over winter break so I really wanted to get more involved in service and that kind of stuff and just helping out really in any way I can,” Crowell said. “So I figured might as well stop by, see what’s going on.”

Ethan Johnston, also a sophomore, said his past volunteer experiences made him decide to attend the fair.

“I worked with refugees this past summer and didn’t do anything at all last semester so I figured it was about time to get started doing something,” Johnston said.

Nicole Waddick, a sophomore, said she attended the fair to find an opportunity to improve her Spanish skills.

“I’m trying to work on my Spanish, and so I’m kind of looking for a way I can get involved with a volunteer opportunity where I can work on my Spanish, so I can kind of get the best of both worlds I guess,” Waddick said.

Freshman Falon Cole said she attended the fair in order to learn more about the issues facing the South Bend community.

“I was interested, I guess, in getting to know the problems of this area,” Cole said. “I only live 45 minutes away, but I wanted to know what I could do to help in any setting and I think that service is very important. I really appreciate that Notre Dame hosts this kind of thing.”

Jan Marable, director of the Family Resource Center at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, said they are looking for volunteers throughout the entire year.

“We have Fit Kids 360, which is an athletic program, a reading program, so a tutoring reading program, Mission Literacy, coaches and other seasonal volunteer opportunities, Christmas and Thanksgiving, that kind of deal so we’re looking for all year-round volunteers and we’re pretty flexible,” Marable said.

“You can volunteer one day a week or you can volunteer five days a week, it’s totally up to you, regarding your availability,” Marable said. 

Dayna Bounprasay, Case Management Advocate at the Family Justice Center, said students assist staff in finding new technology to help survivors of domestic abuse.

“Students … provide immense support to our staff in our daily roles, doing research, updating us on new and improved tools for survivors,” Bounprasay said. “I would say one of my biggest things is newer and more up-to-date apps for safety and security, like updating us on technology and that’s great.”

Cahill Kelly said all of the service organizations partnered with the CSC serve a role in educating students in a unique set of skills.

“I consider all of the community partners as co-educators of our students whether they’re in a community-based learning course, whether they’re there just on their own to learn more about an organization or a particular issue and be involved over the course of a semester, a year, four years, whatever, it might be,” Cahill-Kelly said.

“They are tremendous educators of our students and really bring a whole different skill set and just kind of wisdom, life experience to our students in really tremendous ways so it’s really a privilege to work with them and connect with them and to do the work I do.”

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