June 17, 2016
On Campus

Go and Serve

Volunteers From Illinois Church Group Give Back to Springfield Community

With a motto of “Having Light We Pass It On To Others,” Wittenberg University places a high value on giving back to the community.  Therefore, hosting a group of humble volunteers on campus who wanted to spread their own light of service in Springfield was an easy decision.

In June, members of the university’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement and the Knox Presbyterian Church of Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, teamed up to serve.

Led by Rob Bedner, the “Go and Serve Mission Trip” brought approximately 80 youth and 50 adult volunteers to Springfield to offer their services to local non-profits in the community.

Janet Feller Hyde, a 1971 Wittenberg graduate and member of Knox Presbyterian Church, knew of Wittenberg’s active community service commitment and contacted Kristen Collier, Wittenberg’s director of community service, last winter to make arrangements to bring Knox Church and the Springfield community together.

The group began work on Monday, June 6, and continued through Friday, June 10, staying in Wittenberg’s Firestine Hall during its trip. The group met for breakfast at the Benham-Pence Student Center Dining Room in the mornings before heading out to work each day.

The young people, who ranged in age from eighth grade to recent high school graduates, volunteered at nine different sites on various projects, including clearing out trees and brush, painting, building fences, landscaping, moving old boxes and furniture and ultimately assisting where extra hands were needed.

Sites included the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Project Woman, Perrin Promise, Clark County Developmental Disabilities - Housing Connection, Children's Rescue Center, Warder Literacy Center, Oesterlen Services for Youth, Promise Neighborhood and the Springfield Family YMCA.

Many of these sites provide the same volunteer opportunities to Wittenberg students every academic year.

“For five days, Knox Presbyterian Church brought their light and energy to Springfield,” Collier said. “At Wittenberg, we pass our light on to others, and this group exemplified our mission. As members involved themselves within the community, they not only impacted their own lives, but the lives of those around them. I am beyond grateful for the work they completed and the relationships they formed with members of our community. Seeing this group spread so much hope and vision to the community in which we live has illustrated what it truly means to give of one’s time and talent."

Groups worked from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day before dining together at Covenant Presbyterian Church in downtown Springfield. Hyde and her group of cooks who made the trip from Knox Church prepared meals for the volunteers.

It was not the church’s first time volunteering their services in a community, but it was the first time the group traveled to Springfield and partnered with Wittenberg. Participants on the trip pay out-of-pocket for the experience just as they would for a camp or other trip.

“This group is outstanding; it’s great they are volunteering for someone they don’t even know,” said Brian Pierson from the Housing Connection of Clark County. “Not many people would do that.”

The youths were more than happy to share their time and talents giving back to a community. The high school students could also count their volunteer hours toward their school’s community service credit; however, one student said, “We could use this for credit, but this is not why we volunteered. We volunteered to help a community.”

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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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