St. Thomas Aquinas College has been partnering with Rockland County’s largest food pantry, People to People during the fall 2017 academic semester. Communication arts students from the university have be providing public relations and social media marketing for the Rockland food pantry. Public relations students will be creating a PR plan and have been implementing this plan over the semester and social media marketing students have been “designing engaging content plans for an interactive social strategy for the non-profit.”
Executive director of People to People, Diane Serratore, stated “People to People is known for giving back to our community and we are so thankful to do exactly that in more ways than one. I am so honored to be able to provide key experiences for students in the local community and look forward to hearing all of their ideas.” This mutually beneficial partnership reflects both the St. Thomas Aquinas College and People to People’s commitment to serving those that have the least in the local Rockland community.
To read more about this partnership, please visit St. Thomas Aquinas College news.
Emma Martinez, from the University of Portland, was recently recognized by the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration with the prestigious 2017 Outstanding Student Award. This award is given to students who are majoring in social work and are making a difference in their community. Martinez’s contributions have been mainly focused on issues of immigrant rights, racial injustice, and equity concerns in the Portland area and campus community.
Currently her senior year practicum is with Enlace, “a multiple alliance that strives for racial and economic justice.” She also serves as the liaison to the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition, a volunteer-led organization which is creating an urgent responders’ network in support of undocumented immigrants and their families.” Martinez’s is work is reflective of the University of Portland’s commitment to service and an education outside of the classroom.
To read more about Martinez’s work at the University of Portland, click here.
ACCU recently released the summer edition of Update, our quarterly newsletter. Read Update in full here. Peace and Justice highlights include:
ACCU President’s Letter: Celebrating 50 years of Populorum Progressio
Rivier Students Participate in Day of Service: In April, Rivier University held its fifth annual First-Year Student Day of Service, contributing hundreds of service hours to Greater Nashua, New Hampshire non-profit organizations.
Mount Marty Students Volunteer at Rosebud Indian Reservation: Eighteen students from Mount Marty College recently participated in an annual service opportunity that sends nursing students and non-nursing majors to the Rosebud Indian Reservation to work with Tree of Life Ministry in Mission, South Dakota.
Newman Students Focus Art on Syrian Conflict: The atrium in Newman University’s Dugan Library was home to a student-created art exhibit in April, with art designed to depict the conflict in Syria.
Emmanuel Students Raise Funds for Children’s Hospital: The sixth annual Emmanuel College Dance Marathon for Boston Children’s Hospital set a new fundraising record this year.
Benedictine Holds Social Justice Teach-In: This spring Benedictine University held an all-day “Teach-In on Social Justice and Race” to promote greater understanding of people and issues affecting local communities.
Aquinas Awarded Early Childhood Ed. Grant: Aquinas College in Michigan has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to address the shortage of qualified teachers of color available to lead local early childhood education classrooms.
Inspired by their mission, Catholic colleges and universities serve their local communities in many ways, including building partnerships to work for the common good. Since 2010, ACCU member institutions have partnered with community organizations funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) to collaborate on initiatives that help people in their local communities who are living in poverty. These organizations are dedicated to empowering people to create change in their local community through solidarity and education. Saint Joseph’s University, the University of Dallas, and Marquette University are just a few of the institutions addressing local issues of poverty through these partnerships, providing a concrete way for students to live out the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
At Saint Joseph’s University, students have the opportunity to work with Urban Tree Connection, a non-profit organization funded by CCHD that works with people living in Philadelphia’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods to develop community-based greening and gardening projects. Urban Tree Connection (UTC) empowers members of the local community by training people in farming and other agricultural skills and making fresh produce more widely available. Their projects are created on vacant land to create safe and functional spaces that promote positive human interactions. Saint Joseph’s University’s Sustainability Committee and Institute for Environmental Stewardship work with UTC to provide access to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at UTC to faculty, staff, administrators, and students at the university. Subscribers to the CSA receive vegetables from UTC’s urban farms, supporting their efforts to transform abandoned lots into community gardens.
In addition to promoting the CSA program, students at SJU are also encouraged to work with UTC in their community gardens through the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program and the Magis Program. The Philadelphia Service Immersion Program is an optional early move-in experience for first-year students. This four-day program introduces incoming freshmen to the Jesuit values of social justice, service to those on the margin, moral discernment, and intellectual inquiry through community service learning. This past fall, six students volunteered with UTC through the program. Each evening, the students reflected on what they learned and experienced that day in a small group discussion led by incoming sophomores. Another opportunity available to connect students to UTC is the Magis Program, a semester-long service and social justice program for first-year students. Students meet weekly in small groups for community service, social justice education, and reflection. UTC is one of the sites where students can serve for the semester as part of the Magis Program.
Like St. Joseph’s, other Catholic campuses are finding that partnerships with CCHD-funded groups provide mutual benefits for all the partners. For example, the University of Dallas partnered with the local diocesan CCHD staff to educate students about the reality of poverty in the United States. Working with students and staff, together they created the Journey to Justice Retreat (J2J) to teach students about the issue of poverty in the local area and throughout the country. Using resources from CCHD such as Poverty USA, participants learned about the effects of poverty on people all over the country.
The J2J Retreat featured a focus on the CCHD-funded group Texas Tenant Union (TTU). TTU is a community organizing group dedicated to securing more and higher quality low-income housing by advocating for legislation, providing free legal counsel for low-income tenants, and offering rights education and counseling for tenants. Former diocesan CCHD intern Colleen McInerney, an alumna of the University of Dallas, says the retreat showed students the importance of CCHD in that TTU “wouldn’t have been able to do nearly as much without the CCHD resources” available to it, which inspired many students to get involved with anti-poverty organizations. The retreat was well-received and students hope that the university will be able to host the retreat again in the future.
In addition to hosting service opportunities and working together on educational programming, Catholic colleges and universities can partner with CCHD-funded organizations to learn more about advocacy within the nation’s political system. Marquette University offers students a way to become involved in advocacy through courses that incorporate service learning and through an internship. Project Return assists men and women who have experienced incarceration in making a positive reentry to the community. Each academic year, students work at Project Return for ten hours a week , helping clients find jobs and housing, work through personal issues, and celebrate accomplishments. They learn about the process of reentry by visiting a prison, meeting parole officers, and witnessing a reentry court run by a federal judge. In addition to learning more about the issue, students most recently advocated with community leaders, canvassed neighborhoods on issues surrounding criminal justice reform, and organized a community mental health day.
The project also enables Marquette student interns to work with a mentor on a variety of tasks and to incorporate their own academic interests into the internship. One student intern during the past year worked to launch a mental health initiative to accommodate clients in need of psychological services. Ed de St. Aubin, Ph.D., the director of the internship program, commented, “The social justice mission of our Jesuit university is completely aligned with the mission of Project Return.” De St. Aubin noticed how the experience opened students up to more growth than a classroom could have afforded, exposing them to numerous human factors connected to criminal justice reform, such as race relations, ethnic disparities, and faith development. Recently, de St. Aubin, as well as interns Max Hughes-Zahner and Alex Krouth, were guests on RiverWest Radio Milwaukee’s show, Expo: Ex-Prisoners Organizing. Hughes-Zahner, a junior at Marquette, noted on the show that this internship “was very important for me to experience it from that side because previous to that I had really only experienced classroom learning about incarceration and prison.”
Saint Joseph’s University, the University of Dallas, and Marquette University are working with local organizations to create community-based solutions to issues of poverty and inequality. Their partnerships with CCHD-funded groups enable them to live the values of Catholic Social Teaching and have a visible effect on the surrounding neighborhoods. Students are able to work alongside those living the issues they are working to resolve, giving them an experience of solidarity. Through a partnership with an organization funded by CCHD, Catholic universities make a difference in their communities and give students experience in what it means to have a faith that does justice.
Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
ACCU recently released the winter edition of Update, our quarterly newsletter. Read Update in full here. Peace and Justice highlights include:
Justice Dept. Grants Help Combat Injustice: Nine ACCU member institutions have received a boost to their efforts to combat violence against women with grants from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women. Among the recipients of grants to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on campus are Saint Leo University, Benedictine University (IL), Mercy College of Health Sciences, Loyola University Maryland, Siena Heights University, Saint Anselm College, Felician University, Georgian Court University, and the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Alverno Athletes Take Charity Title: Student athletes at Alverno College collected 13,235 items and donations for “Cans Across the Conference,” an annual food drive, marking the seventh straight year Alverno has collected the most items in the competition.
College of St. Joseph Students Serve Community: Students at the College of St. Joseph are working on a large-scale service project that involves the renovation of three apartments used by the county’s POISE (Parenting on our Own In a Safe Environment) program for pregnant and parenting youth ages 16-22, who are currently or will soon be homeless.
La Roche Explores Designing with Purpose: La Roche College’s Interior Design Advisory Board hosted a presentation on “Inspiring Lives with Design: Influencing Interiors through Purpose.” The presentation, given by Lisa Robison, founder of the nonprofit Dwell with Dignity, focused on bringing inspirational design to those experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Marquette and USD Earn Civic Engagement Awards: Marquette University and University of San Diego were chosen among five institutions nationally to receive the 2016 Washington Center Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards.
College of Mount Saint Vincent students Kylee McGrane and Margaret McAndrew bring joy by visiting hospitalized children dressed as princesses. Realizing that they resembled the main characters from the Disney movie Frozen, and inspired by their desire to serve, the two began a non-profit called A Moment of Magic. A video showcasing their organization has gone viral online with over 30 million views on Facebook. Their newest initiative includes athletes dressed in their uniform and volunteers dressed as superheros. Soon, they hope to expand A Moment of Magic to involve other colleges.
The students’ effort reflects College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Leaders in Service Initiative, introducing a shared concern for others through their first year experience course. Students continue their commitment by volunteering with ongoing projects on hunger, homelessness, and other issues.
ACCU wishes you and your family a happy Thanksgiving! We would like to share this special Thanksgiving prayer from Catholic Relief Services. You can find this prayer, a printable prayer card, and several other prayers in honor of Thanksgiving in their online prayer resource.
Litany of Thanksgiving
God Most High,
Before your son fed the multitudes, he first gave thanks.
Before he raised his friend Lazarus, he first gave thanks,
That all might know your glory.
And so, as we are blessed to do your works in the world,
That all, indeed, might know your glory
We thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to feed the poor, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to heal the sick, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to lift up the broken, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to harbor the refugee, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to aid the endangered, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to speak on behalf of the marginalized and vulnerable, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to be for the prisoner, the addict, the lost, the outcast, the dying
What your son has been for us
A comfort, a beacon, a shepherd, a rabbi, a healer, a hope
The salt of the earth, the light of the world, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.