An Alternative Call to Action| By Lacey Key

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At first this looks like a pensive photo of me planting blackberries with my eyebrow MIA (which in fact it is), but it is also a call to action.  Alternative Break has been the most life changing and growth inspiring opportunity I have had while in college. I’ve learned more than I have in my toughest and most interesting classes. I have learned so much on these trips through travel, community, early morning farmers markets, museum visits, service, and meeting people who have so much to gain from sustainable change.  Most importantly, I’ve learned what it is to put a passion for change into action.

There are things that are very unsettling about the state of this world. As people of privilege on so many levels, furthering our education and creating a foundation for the rest of our lives, I encourage and call upon you to spend one of your academic breaks this year on an Alternative Break.  It will make you frustrated but motivated, taken aback by the devastating and beautiful truths this world has to uncover. 

The college will tell you what classes to take and the necessary steps to earn a degree. What it won’t tell you is that in order to come out of these four years a person who is truly aware of the world, a citizen of this earth, you have to do something a little extra. You have to push your comfort zones, try new things, expand your circle of compassion, get your hands dirty, find a way to sustain not only your own life- but the life that exists all around you.

Alternative Break is my happiness. We all have the chance to do something like this as young people with energy, time, and heart. So, this Fall break, trade your old lenses of the world out for new ones. Laugh at yourself, break down, rebuild yourself again and again. Get smart, get engaged, get active.

Applications are available here, and due Monday September 26th.

 

 

MLK Alternative Break Reflection By: Michaela Herrmann

 

I’m not proud to say that for most of my four years at CofC, I was accustomed to think of Martin Luther King Day as a day free from classes (and only every other year, at that). I was virtually oblivious to the true virtue of this day as a national call to action in the form of a mindful day of service to honor the spirit of our drum major for justice. This has changed, undoubtedly for the better, thanks to the incredible group of people with whom I spent this 2016 MLK weekend as a part of the Alternative Break program. Through our experiences at New American Pathways, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and the Center for Human and Civil Rights, we learned about several different, yet interconnected, issues: refugees and the challenges they face when starting over upon moving to the US, the legacy of MLK and the many brave people that participated in the American Civil Rights movement, and many ongoing movements for freedom and justice that are constantly happening around the world.

Our trip coordinators placed a high value on discussing our feelings, epiphanies, and questions about what we learned, which was one of the most valuable aspects of the weekend. Our sometimes silly, sometimes profound, and often both, conversations were immensely helpful in ensuring that we thought critically about how we contribute to the lives of others without prioritizing our own egos or what we think a community needs, rather than listening to what it asks for. It was interesting to hear what stood out to each individual as we had our shared experiences, which emphasized how differently we all think and the importance of understanding an issue from multiple perspectives. I truly felt like I came away from the weekend with new friends that I had genuinely connected with over issues we were all passionate for and committed to teaching others about, and I look forward to what each of us will accomplish

Although I intended to pursue a career in social justice before this experience, I’ve come away with an understanding of the necessity to carefully reflect on one’s motives before appointing oneself to be everyone’s savior. I still want to support and pursue justice for others, but I recognize that the first thing to do is to educate myself and to recognize the importance of engaging with a community or movement in a way that best suits its needs, and not my own. Alternative Break, and every single person in our group, played a part in teaching me this lesson, and I couldn’t be more grateful or glad that I went out on a limb and was a part of this weekend.

Weekly Digest: January 25th, 2016

Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ January 27th, 2016

 

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at: volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

 

Recurring Service Opportunities

Keep Charleston Beautiful! Keep Charleston Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the City of Charleston, conducts environmental clean ups of debris around the Charleston area. Volunteers go to specific neighborhoods, streets, parks and marshes to help keep Charleston beautiful! Our next clean-up is January 30th from 10am to 1pm. To sign up or get more information, please email: volunteer@cofc.edu, with the subject line, “Keep Charleston Beautiful”!

Lowcountry Food Bank! The Lowcountry Food Bank, located in North Charleston, helps feed children, adults, seniors and families in need along coastal South Carolina. Come pack, sort, clean food while getting to know your fellow Cougars! Your next opportunity is February 19th, from 12:303:30pm! Limited to the first seven volunteers! Email volunteer@cofc.edu, with the subject line: Lowcountry Food Bank”, to register!

*Transportation provided

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

People Against Rape! Rape victims in Charleston are in desperate need of advocacy and help. In the hours after the trauma of rape, victims need someone to stand by them. That is what People Against Rape (PAR) has done since 1974. The services that we provide to victims in the Tricounty area are done so by volunteer effort. PAR is currently searching for caring compassionate citizens to fill this crucial role. You can make a difference by helping rape victims after their assault, by accompanying them to the ED for an evidentiary exam, as well as responding to crisis calls and providing referrals for adult victims of sexual assault. We need more volunteer advocates! PAR will provide the necessary training in a series of workshops to be held January 28th through the 31st (Thursday and Friday from 6:00pm to 8:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 5:30pm). If you, or someone you know, is able to devote 24 hours per month to serving Tri-County rape victims, we would love to talk with you about PAR’s activities in greater detail. A SLED check is required.

E-mail volunteer@peopleagainstrape.org to obtain more information about this important volunteer opportunity. Please feel free to disseminate this to anyone you know who may be interested in volunteering their time for this very worthy cause. Please apply by January 22nd.

LEAP! Lowcountry Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy is looking for volunteers to fill multiple capacities. Their mission is to enrich the quality of life and relationships of residents of the SC Lowcountry by bringing horses and experienced, highly trained therapists together to assist those who are experiencing behavioral, emotional or psychological challenges.

Horse lovers: muck stalls, clean the barn, fill and clean water troughs, feed, brush horses, bathe horses! We have horse lovers shifts every AM and PM.

Groundskeepers: facility maintenance and beautification; design landscaping; plant, weed, and water flower beds; repair fences; mow and weed eat. (Sat and Sun)

Advocates: market LEAP to businesses and individuals, speak at community meetings regarding the mission and services of LEAP, solicit private donations

Organizers: plan and implement fundraising events, participate in community awareness events.

Please call (281.546.1448) or email (caroline.wallace2011@gmail.com) with your information and Caroline W. Fugle, LEAP’s volunteer coordinator, will be in touch with you.

Meals on Wheels! The Charleston Area Senior Citizens and their Meals on Wheels (MOW) program are looking for volunteers to better the lives of seniors! They serve senior citizens who may be low-income, home-bound, and may have moderate to severe physical restrictions. Volunteer shifts can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. To volunteer contact,Heather Browning, (843) 722-4217 or casc.vista@gmail.com. For more information: charlestonareaseniors.com

Engaging Creative Minds! The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable and productive adults. Help provide arts integration, whether it is creative design or collaboration and problem solving skills, in more than 20 schools! To learn more and sign up, email: kathy@engagingcreativeminds.org

Lowcountry Herald Potluck and Donation Drive! The Lowcountry Herald is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless. We make newspapers, give them to the homeless, and the homeless in turn give them away and ask for a three dollar donation. The homeless vendors keep the money as a form of income. They hold a potluck everySunday at 12:452pm on Trident Tech’s Downtown campus. Volunteers are needed each week for this to bring and/or serve food to the homeless. Bringing food is appreciated, but not mandatory. They also collect a wide variety of donated items, from toiletries, blankets, clothing, etc. For more information about the Lowcountry Herald and volunteer opportunities, please email: lowcountryherald@gmail.com

Reading Partners! Reading Partners Charleston, a volunteer-based nonprofit literacy organization, is looking for volunteer tutors.  The organization offers one-on-one literacy tutoring to struggling readers in under-resourced elementary schools in Charleston, Berkeley and Florence counties.   Using a research-proven curriculum, volunteer tutors meet with a student for one hour each week to develop and practice skills crucial to reading proficiently.   In 2014-15, 77% of the students enrolled in the program accelerated their rate of learning and 67% narrowed their literacy gaps with their peers who read at grade level. The program is currently serving 570 students, but has another 140 students who are waiting for a tutor.  By becoming a Reading Partner and volunteering as little as one hour a week, you can help mentor and teach a child to learn to read – unlocking a critical skill that is the foundation for future learning.  For more information or to sign up, visit www.readingpartners.org or call Alexis Johns at 843-860-3915.

Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visit www.cischarleston.org and/or emaildbrown@cischarleston.org

 Beacon Hospice! Beacon Hospice is committed to making quality Hospice care available and accessible to terminally ill persons and their families, regardless of the ability to pay, in a manner consistent with the highest Hospice standards.  We are committed to advocacy for the needs of terminally ill persons and their families, while dedicating ourselves to provide comfort, dignity, privacy, and care efficiently and effectively.  Our commitment to the Hospice Philosophy of care includes compassionate staff dedicated to continuously improve and enhance the care we provide, respect the patient’s choices for care, respond to changing community needs and continue to expand the breadth, scope, professionalism, sensitivity, efficiency and effectiveness of our services to the terminally ill and their families.  Please contact Terry Frasier at 843-972-0500 to discuss volunteer opportunities.

Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215

 

 

 

New Year, New Service!

As we are finally getting back in the groove of the New Year (and SUPER fun 8 AMs), the Center for Civic Engagement is getting its groove on too!  For those of you new to the office, our mission is to focus on community development both inside and outside the College of Charleston community.  We do this by emphasizing education, direct service, and critical reflection.

This year we will be casting a lot of light on our recurring service events with different community partners.  These partners include Neighborhood House, Keep Charleston Beautiful, and Lowcountry Food Bank.  The service with Neighborhood House, One80 Place and Lowcountry Food Bank will be focusing on the issues people face when experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, while Keep Charleston Beautiful will be focusing on litter, environmental and other social issues around Charleston.

The Alternative Break program has a fresh round of Spring Break trips to Washburn, TN, Charlotte, NC and Louisville, KY.  The trip to Washburn will be focusing on Environmental Justice through engaging in organic gardening, conservation projects and eco-construction projects while also having the opportunity to practice daily yoga, evening hikes and vegetarian meals prepared by a local chef. Those in Charlotte will be learning about sustainable and affordable housing, working with Habitat for Humanity on home construction and education of the current housing crisis. Participants in the Louisville trip will be educated on refugee resettlement, partnering with Kentucky Refugee Ministries to organize warehouse donation and serve a direct impact by preparing welcome kits of household items for incoming refugees. In addition, there are exciting Maymester opportunities to Greece and Puerto Rico, focusing on Sustainable Tourism and Permaculture with Environmental Justice, respectively.

The Bonner Leader program is very excited to announce the return of their Engage and Empower’s “Get Up and Go Get It” week this spring.  Engage and Empower is an opportunity for students to get more involved with organizations both on and off campus and gives Bonner leaders an opportunity to facilitate group presentations.

If you are interested in any of the above items, feel free to stop by our office in 203 Lightsey.  It’s going to be a great year, let’s spend it becoming engaged, active citizens!

 

Weekly Digest: Dec. 10th

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Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ December 10th , 2015

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at:volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

Alternative Break Opportunities

  • Maymester: Puerto Rico! We have extended the application window for our Alternative Break Maymester Puerto Rico trip. Spend over two weeks in Puerto Rico learning about permaculture practices and sustainable living. Applications are available at: volunteer.cofc.edu and due January 8th by 5 pm.
  • Spring Break: Charlotte! We have also extended the application window for our Alternative Spring Break to Charlotte, NC! This experience focuses on sustainable and affordable housing. Participants will work with Habitat for Humanity and other colleges from around the nation. Applications are available at:volunteer.cofc.edu and due January 11th by 5 pm.

 

Internship Opportunity

  • Communications Intern! Coastal Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps donors set up permanent funds for charitable giving. Last year, CCF granted out $20 million to nonprofits. The Communications Intern will assist the Communications & Diversity Officer with print and electronic communications and public relations efforts related to CCF’s mission: to foster philanthropy for the lasting good of the community. The Communications Intern will work 15-20 hours per week and earn $10/hour. Resume and cover letter is due by 5 p.m. on January 8th to Monica Tanouye at: monica@coastalcommunityfoundation.org. More details available online: http://coastalcommunityfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Communications-Intern-Spring-2016.pdf

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

  • Meals on Wheels! The Charleston Area Senior Citizens and their Meals on Wheels (MOW) program are looking for volunteers to better the lives of seniors! They serve senior citizens who may be low-income, home-bound, and may have moderate to severe physical restrictions. Volunteer shifts can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. To volunteer contact, Heather Browning, (843) 722-4217 or casc.vista@gmail.com. For more information: charlestonareaseniors.com
  •  Charleston Marathon! The 6th Annual Charleston Marathon runs January 16th, 2016! Funds raised from the marathon benefit arts programming for Charleston County Schools. You can volunteer before and/or during the marathon in a multitude of positions. Contact Kathy Molony at (843) 789-0450 or email:volunteers@charlestonmarathon.com. Visit www.charlestonmarathon.com for more information!
  •  Engaging Creative Minds! The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable and productive adults. Help provide arts integration, whether it is creative design or collaboration and problem solving skills, in more than 20 schools! To learn more and sign up, email: kathy@engagingcreativeminds.org
  •  Lowcountry Herald Potluck and Donation Drive! The Lowcountry Herald is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless. We make newspapers, give them to the homeless, and the homeless in turn give them away and ask for a three dollar donation. The homeless vendors keep the money as a form of income. They hold a potluck every Sunday at 12:452pm on Trident Tech’s Downtown campus. Volunteers are needed each week for this to bring and/or serve food to the homeless. Bringing food is appreciated, but not mandatory. They also collect a wide variety of donated items, from toiletries, blankets, clothing, etc. For more information about the Lowcountry Herald and volunteer opportunities, please email:lowcountryherald@gmail.com
  •  Families Helping Families! Palmetto Project organizes, Families Helping Families, a type of Christmas programming that provides food, clothing, and Christmas gifts for nearly 3,800 families with urgent and emergency needs. We need data entry volunteers to put applications into  system that will then match families in need with sponsors. Also, We need warehouse volunteers to receive, sort, log, wrap, and distribute gifts to happy families. Get a group of friends and spend an afternoon helping to ensure that all South Carolinians have a happy holiday season! There are a multitude of dates and times to volunteer. If you are interested in helping out the Palmetto Project in another way, please fill out and submit  the volunteer application by copy and pasting the following link into your browser.
  •  Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visitwww.cischarleston.org and/or email dbrown@cischarleston.org
  •  Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215

If you’ll be in Charleston over break, be on the lookout for our December Newsletter for service events happening over Winter Break!

Active Citizenship: A Compilation of Student Ideals

“There is power in identity.”- Bryan Stevenson

Here at the Center for Civic Engagement we like to identify as Active Citizens.  Having language attached to what we are doing gives us an identity, and having an identity makes us a movement- people who are striving to to be intentional and work in solidarity with the communities we serve.  Using the term “Active Citizen” both enforces being part of a movement, and defines what we strive to achieve through serving the community.  As “citizens” we are accepting that we are members of society, and with that we accept the rights, privileges, and duties given to us by the community.  By adding “active” to this definition, we are embracing a state of progress and action towards the betterment of the community, rather than just giving ones support.  This terminology is used across the country in regards to college campuses pursuing civic engagement and community development.

The CCE as a whole defines it as “actively putting the needs of the community in the forefront of your mind”, but we also believe that it can carry different meanings for everyone.  Several students take this definition further by seeing active citizenship as a lens through which you see the world.  This means that you see how each of your actions could potentially affect the community you are in, and this effects your everyday decisions.  Viewing active citizenship as a lens also shows that this lens can evolve with time.  It is a process towards becoming more engaged and aware of the issues that surround your community.  Katie Joiner (sophomore) defines active citizenship as, “constantly and organically considering the impact that everything you do and everything that you see done has on the communities you’re a part of.”  This use of the word organic implies that truly active citizens no longer need to think about being an active citizen.  Meeting the needs of the community is now one of their highest priorities.

Students also shared examples of active citizens they try to model their life after.  Sam Brophy (senior) mentions CofC’s own Maggie Szeman as an active citizen role model. She says, “[Maggie] embodies passion about service, and is always inspiring me.”  Passion is often seen as a driving force behind embodying this view of the world.  Without passion, the work you do is just work and there is no sense of true fulfillment.  Active citizenship is more than serving the community because you want to; it is serving the community to fight for justice while furthering your understanding of the communities needs.

The Active Citizenship Continuum is used to place yourself along the process toward active citizenship.  It is used as a guide to further your path toward becoming a truly active citizen.

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Nicole Fernandez (senior) talks about how active citizenship is a constantly evolving life-long process, and how you can always become a more active citizen.  Her personal definition of active citizenship involves, “both a desire to know everything you can, as well as an awareness of the fact that you will never know all there is to know. It also involves a desire to cultivate compassion and connection on both the local and familiar levels, as well as the broader and unfamiliar levels.”  Through the cultivation of compassion, individuals gain empathy.  Empathy gives people the means of truly understanding the needs of a community.  With understanding stems the intentional life choices that define active citizens.

Weekly Digest: Nov. 18th

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Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ November 17th, 2015

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at: volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

HHAW 2013 T-shirt image

One-Time Service

  • Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week!  This national event is put on annually, the week before Thanksgiving (U.S.). This year, between November 14th and 21st, the Center for Civic Engagement will be partnering with other campus offices and organizations, to educate students, faculty and staff about the issues people experiencing homelessness and hunger deal with on an almost daily basis. To learn about all events happening during HHAW check out volunteer.cofc.edu. To take action sign-up for one of our Recurring Service opportunities! #cofcHHAW
  •  “A Place at the Table”, SSMB 129 6-8pm TODAY. Learn about hunger and food security in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, America. From New York to Los Angeles, millions of Americans wonder where their next meal is coming from. Come learn and discussion possible solutions and ways to help those in the Charleston community.

 

Recurring Service

  • Keep Charleston Beautiful! Keep Charleston Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the City of Charleston, conducts environmental clean ups of debris around the Charleston area. Volunteers go to specific neighborhoods, streets, parks and marshes to help keep Charleston beautiful! Our next clean-up is November 21st from 8:30am to 12:30pm. To sign up or get more information, please email: volunteer@cofc.edu. (Part of #cofcHHAW)
  •  Lowcountry Food Bank! The Lowcountry Food Bank, located in North Charleston, helps feed children, adults, seniors and families in need along coastal South Carolina. Come pack, sort, clean food while getting to know your fellow Cougars! Your next opportunity is November 20th, from 12:30-3:30pm! Limited to the first ten volunteers! Emailvolunteer@cofc.edu to register! *Transportation provided (Part of #cofcHHAW)

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

  • Engaging Creative Minds! The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable and productive adults. Help provide arts integration, whether it is creative design or collaboration and problem solving skills, in more than 20 schools! To learn more and sign up, email: kathy@engagingcreativeminds.org
  •  Lowcountry Herald Potluck and Donation Drive! The Lowcountry Herald is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless. We make newspapers, give them to the homeless, and the homeless in turn give them away and ask for a three dollar donation. The homeless vendors keep the money as a form of income. They hold a potluck every Sunday at 12:452pm on Trident Tech’s Downtown campus. Volunteers are needed each week for this to bring and/or serve food to the homeless. Bringing food is appreciated, but not mandatory. They also collect a wide variety of donated items, from toiletries, blankets, clothing, etc. For more information about the Lowcountry Herald and volunteer opportunities, please email: lowcountryherald@gmail.com
  •  Families Helping Families! Palmetto Project organizes, Families Helping Families, a type of Christmas programming that provides food, clothing, and Christmas gifts for nearly 3,800 families with urgent and emergency needs. We need data entry volunteers to put applications into  system that will then match families in need with sponsors. Also, We need warehouse volunteers to receive, sort, log, wrap, and distribute gifts to happy families. Get a group of friends and spend an afternoon helping to ensure that all South Carolinians have a happy holiday season! There are a multitude of dates and times to volunteer. If you are interested in helping out the Palmetto Project in another way, please fill out and submit  the volunteer application by copy and pasting the following link into your browser.
  •  Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visit www.cischarleston.org and/or emaildbrown@cischarleston.org
  •  Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215

________________________________________

Center for Civic Engagement

160 Calhoun St., Lightsey 203

Phone: (843)953-5838

Website: volunteer.cofc.edu

Email: volunteer@cofc.edu

The Realities of Homelessness by Alli Camp

“Homelessness isn’t sexy.” Anthony Haro bluntly made this claim at a recent Alternative Break orientation, before sending out a group of CofC students to work with food insecurity and homelessness in Asheville, NC. The students laughed; Anthony smiled. Yes, the phrase sounded a bit silly, but Anthony was making a good point. Students jump at the opportunity to volunteer in schools or hospitals or nursing homes. But the streets? Not so much.

There is a stigma associated with people experiencing homelessness. Often times we feel a dividing distinction between “us” and “them.” The lines of this distinction have been blurred as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2014 Point-in-Time Count shows 34% of people experiencing homelessness are under the age of 24. This total number of un-housed teens hit 45,000 in 2014 (National Alliance to End Homelessness). CofC students, this is us. This is our age bracket. Generation Y. So why are we standing by and just watching?

In order to change these stereotypes, we must take the initiative to educate ourselves.  Many stereotypes come from not properly understanding your own privilege.  Many of us are under the impression that if you experience homelessness then you are not working hard enough to change your situation, and this assumption comes from not knowing the systems that can keep people homeless.  With proper education, we can then do quality community service that actually helps those who experience homelessness.

As an aspiring socially active millennial, I saw the error of my ways after returning from an Alternative Break trip where we combatted hunger and homelessness in the Atlanta community. I reached out to Anthony Haro, Executive Director at the Lowcountry Homeless Coalition here in Charleston. I wanted to make a real, sustainable difference in lives that are so often passed over, discarded for “lack of importance.”

I volunteered to help with the 2015 Point-In-Time Count. The basic requirements of a PIT are to identify everyone who is experiencing homelessness on a singular night in January. Because it would be impossible to survey thousands of people in one night with the resources given, the surveys are done over a two-week period in January, all with the goal of gauging how many are with out a home on the night of January 24th. The data helps the federal government as well as local communities better understand the nature and prevalence of homelessness. The scope of my volunteerism remained within the Lowcountry counties. The 2013 PIT Count identified 6,035 people unsheltered, living in South Carolina. This marked a 28.3% increase compared to the previous count in 2011.

Astonishing. This is truly frustrating because ending homelessness is not impossible. As our economy stands right now, we are actually very capable of ending this crisis, this epidemic of American homelessness. It is a tactic referred to as “Housing First.” Beginning in 2010, President Obama’s “Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness” explains why the “Housing First” approach is imperative in wiping out chronic homelessness: “Stable housing is the foundation upon which people build their lives — absent a safe, decent, affordable place to live, it is next to impossible to achieve good health, positive educational outcomes or reach one’s economic potential.”

Nevertheless, between classes, internships, and maintaining a healthy social life, college students are not the ideal candidates for changing the face of homelessness at the moment. But this is not to say we are helpless. National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week was designed specifically to offer universities and communities alike the chance to contribute to a national social movement. The National Coalition for the Homeless hopes to emphasize that “You can help to change the conversation about stereotypes, improve policy, help service providers, and so much more.”

Why not start this week? Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is nationally recognized as the time to do your part to fight homelessness and food insecurity.   We will be working with several community partners and holding events such as clothing drives, community cleanups, and trips to the food bank.  From there, the week will be filled with relevant documentaries and informed open-dialogue about the social issue.

Want more information about HHAW service projects or events? Contact volunteer@cofc.edu.

Interested in volunteering for 2016’s Point-In-Time Count? Contact Anthony Haro at anthony@lowcountryhomelesscoalition.org

Getting Alternative Over Fall Break

Contributions made by Kat Carmichael, Elizabeth Mandell, and Aly Skiko

Over this past fall break, two groups of students decided to get alternative.   They wanted to do something different from going home for the weekend.  One group strived to learn about the root causes of homelessness and food insecurity in Asheville, North Carolina and one group focused on food insecurity amongst migrant workers on Saint Helena Island located in the Beaufort, SC community.

The group in Asheville worked with several organizations that fought homelessness and food insecurity in the area.  These organizations include the Asheville Poverty Initiative, the Steadfast House, the Veterans Restoration Quarters, and the MANNA Food Bank.

The Asheville Poverty Initiative took the group on a tour of Asheville through the eyes of someone experiencing homelessness.  They were accompanied by “poverty scholars” (people in poverty that get paid by the organization to give these tours) who shared their stories of living on the streets, and how some local shelters are not all good.  This experience provided the participants with a new perspective on homelessness and how the system does not work.

The Steadfast House is a transitional housing facility for women and children experiencing homelessness.  Many of the women are victims of domestic violence.  Steadfast House also works very closely with the Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville.  The group learned that in the state of North Carolina boys over the age of 12 are considered too old to reside in Steadfast House, which leads to families needing to be split up.

The Veterans Restoration Quarters provides housing for veterans who experience homelessness when they return from war.  One quote that really stuck with the group was how “they trained us for 6 years for war, but only gave us 2 days to readjust.”  Veterans are often not given the help they need once they return back to the states, and this often leads to homelessness.  The Veterans Restoration Quarters is an all-male facility that accepts only those over 18 years old.  In partnership with the Steadfast House, they are working towards building Transformation Village, an organization that would provide housing to any family (including in-tact families and single dads).

The MANNA Food Bank is the largest food bank in Western North Carolina, where 1 in 4 children are food insecure.  They provide school kids with “weekend packs” which contain easy to prepare meals for the weekends.  Schools often provide students who are food insecure with breakfasts and lunches, but on the weekends the kids go hungry.  These weekend packs have meals that the children can prepare themselves.

The Beaufort group focused mainly on educating themselves about the issues that migrant communities face by meeting with different groups connected with the farmworker community during their trip. They first partnered up with Water’s Edge Youth group and went bowling with a group of 12 children who live at the farmworker camps along with other children from Water’s Edge youth congregation.

The next day the group met with Joe Taylor, a local high school teacher who generously teaches youth, evening English classes during his summers off. He works with funds from the migrant education program. Beyond his duties as an ESOL teacher, he and his family are instrumental in connecting the workers to the other resources in the community. He and his daughter Rachel Taylor took the group on a tour of the camps and gave the students an insight into some of the challenges the farmworker families face living in isolated camps. Rachel has worked for the Migrant Education Program alongside her dad, and has also been an intern for SAF, or Student Action with Farmworkers.

The Beaufort group was also fortunate enough to hear from the Migrant Education Program State Recruiter, Zach Taylor. He explained what his position was and what his duties were. He told the group how he aims to find the camps that house farmworkers and their families in the lower part of South Carolina in order to start migrant education programs in the school districts.

Another community member the group met with was a former translator from the Saint Helena Health Clinic. This clinic aims to provide services to the farmworker communities such as OB visits for women who are pregnant, dental services, and even eye exams.

The Beaufort group was able to partner with Water’s Edge church in order to plan fun activities to take the kids to go bowling and to the movies. One day the group went to the camps and brought games and coloring books to play with the children. The Beaufort group also met with the parents of 2 of the children they played with and heard each of their stories. On a separate occasion, the Beaufort group hosted two younger farmworkers at dinner and also heard their experiences as farmworkers.

During their cultural day the group enjoyed Gullah cuisine, the historic Penn Center, downtown Beaufort and Hunting Island State Park. The Penn Center is located on Saint Helena and was the first school for freed slaves in history. During the cultural day, the Beaufort group was able to see Beaufort’s diverse community and fully understand how isolated the migrant community is within Beaufort.

Both groups had incredibly enriching experiences and were able to immerse themselves into the pressing issues that the Asheville and Beaufort communities are facing. These groups will continue to educate themselves and be allies to these communities so the issues they face can eventually be eradicated.

If you are interested in participating in an Alternative Break experience, the applications for Spring Maymester, and MLK weekend breaks are available now!  They are due Monday, Nov. 16th to the Center for Civic Engagement by 5pm.  Feel free to stop by the office to pick one up, or print out a copy from the Alternative Break page!

12108719_10207758374179628_765517823353704659_nParticipants on the Asheville Alternative Fall Break

Weekly Digest: Nov. 4th

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Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ November 4th, 2015

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at: volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

 

One-Time Service

  • Veteran’s Day! This Veteran’s Day, November 11th, we will be creating a remembrance garden of American flags in the Cistern Yard for all student, staff and faculty veterans (9-10am). We will also serve lunch and play games with veterans at the VA Medical Center’s Patriots Harbor Community Living Center (10:45am-2:15pm, Registration Required). In the evening, we will be screening, “When I Came Home”, the emotional story of coming home after returning from Iraq (7-9pm). For more information, how to register and get involved, email: volunteer@cofc.edu.
  • Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week!  This national event is put on annually, the week before Thanksgiving (U.S.). This year, between November 14th and 21st, the Center for Civic Engagement will be partnering with other campus offices and organizations, to educate students, faculty and staff about the issues people experiencing homelessness and hunger deal with on an almost daily basis. To learn about all events happening during HHAW check out volunteer.cofc.edu. To take action sign-up for one of our Recurring Service opportunities! #cofcHHAW

 

Recurring Service

  • Keep Charleston Beautiful! Keep Charleston Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the City of Charleston, conducts environmental clean ups of debris around the Charleston area. Volunteers go to specific neighborhoods, streets, parks and marshes to help keep Charleston beautiful! Our next clean-ups are November 14th and 21st from8:30am to 12:30pm. To sign up or get more information, please email: volunteer@cofc.edu. (Part of #cofcHHAW)
  • Lowcountry Food Bank! The Lowcountry Food Bank, located in North Charleston, helps feed children, adults, seniors and families in need along coastal South Carolina. Come pack, sort, clean food while getting to know your fellow Cougars! Your next opportunity is November 20th, from 12:30-3:30pm! Limited to the first ten volunteers! Emailvolunteer@cofc.edu to register! *Transportation provided (Part of #cofcHHAW)
  • Neighborhood House Farmer’s Market Gleaning and Monday Market! Neighborhood House is a part of Our Lady of Mercy Outreach. They help feed, clothe, house, and counsel those in need. They have partnered with Fields to Families, an organization working with local farmers to bring fresh produce to those who may go hungry. The gleaning takes place Saturday, November 14th, from 1pm-3pm in Marion Square. The Monday Market is the opportunity for the community to pick up the produce, also learn ways to prepare and get the most out of these products. The Monday Market, takes place the following Monday, November 16th, after the Gleaning, between 11:00 am -1:30 pm. To sign up, email: volunteer@cofc.edu. (Part of #cofcHHAW)

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

  • S.C.O.R.E.! The South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program (SCORE) is a community-based habitat restoration and monitoring program of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Volunteers will be bagging shells at their Fort Johnson locations on James Island, this Saturday November 7th, from 9am-11am. Please RSVP to score@dnr.sc.gov. A map to get to Ft. Johnson is located here. For all events, closed-toed shoes and clothing you don’t mind getting dirty are a must!! We will provide water, gloves, sunscreen, and bug spray. We will have single use cups for water, but encourage volunteers to be eco-friendly and bring a refillable bottle.
  •  Lowcountry Herald Potluck and Donation Drive! The Lowcountry Herald is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless. We make newspapers, give them to the homeless, and the homeless in turn give them away and ask for a three dollar donation. The homeless vendors keep the money as a form of income. They hold a potluck every Sunday at 12:45-2pm on Trident Tech’s Downtown campus. Volunteers are needed each week for this to bring and/or serve food to the homeless. Bringing food is appreciated, but not mandatory. They also collect a wide variety of donated items, from toiletries, blankets, clothing, etc. For more information about the Lowcountry Herald and volunteer opportunities, please email: lowcountryherald@gmail.com
  • Families Helping Families! Palmetto Project organizes, Families Helping Families, a type of Christmas programming that provides food, clothing, and Christmas gifts for nearly 3,800 families with urgent and emergency needs. We need data entry volunteers to put applications into  system that will then match families in need with sponsors. Also, We need warehouse volunteers to receive, sort, log, wrap, and distribute gifts to happy families. Get a group of friends and spend an afternoon helping to ensure that all South Carolinians have a happy holiday season! There are a multitude of dates and times to volunteer. If you are interested in helping out the Palmetto Project in another way, please fill out and submit  the volunteer application by copy and pasting the following link into your browser.
  • LUNG FORCE Run/Walk! The American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Run/Walk is Saturday, November 14 from 7-11am at the Folly Beach Fishing Pier. We are seeking volunteers to help us with event day setup, registration, directing participants along the route, and handing out water. It’s a fun, exciting and inspiring event. We hope you will consider being a part of it! Please email MargaretAnn.Mabry@LungSE.org if interested.
  • Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visit www.cischarleston.org and/or emaildbrown@cischarleston.org
  • Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215