Thursday, December 5, 2013

Closer Look: Community Partnership Coordinators

Community. Service. Learning.  Each Residence hall at Calvin partners with one agency in Grand Rapids in a long lasting, intentional relationship that strives to work towards these things.  Students from Calvin Residence halls continue to serve and learn alongside their partner organizations for years, in an intentional two-way relationship.  The people that connect the dorm residents with their partner organizations are the Community Partnership Coordinators (CPC's) from each dorm.  This semester the CPC’s worked on activities including the ACCESS county-wide food drive, dorm service auctions (to raise money for their partnerships), and continued to lead other important work serving and learning within the Grand Rapids community. 

Fall 2013 CPC's
Boer-Bennink: Libby Schimmel
Bolt-Heyns-Timmer: Aby Nwadike
Beets Veenstra: Sarah De Vries, Sierra Slaughter
Noordewier-VanderWerp: Amber Gilliland, Matt Schanck
Rooks-VanDellen: Josi Baar, 
Schultze Eldersveld: David Potts, Abby Stapleton
Kalsbeek Huizenga Van Reken: Marissa Ritter, Anna Lindner

Access-County Wide Food Drive

BB - Cook Library Center

S-LC: What have you learned about Grand Rapids through working with your partnership?
"Through service-learning with Cook Library, I have learned so much about Grand Rapids. Surprisingly, there is more then Calvin College here! I think that it is really easy for students to get stuck in their studies on campus, but I have learned that there is so much to learn from throughout Grand Rapids. Every neighborhood in Grand Rapids is different and has something beautiful to offer. I am so thankful for the opportunity to see the beauty in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood through going to Cook Library and attending church there." -Libby Schimmel

BHT - Messiah Missionary Baptist Church

S-LC: What have you learned about Grand Rapids through working with your partnership?
"There really is an invisible line that divides the poor from the rich. You drive down one street and the houses are beautiful and big. You literally move one street over and the houses change. The color of the people usually change too."  - Abuoma Nwadike

S-LC:  -How does your service take you out of your comfort zone?
I have to work with a lot of kids who say things they shouldn't, have seen things they shouldn't, smell like cigarette smoke and aren't always clean. It pushes to think about the circumstances that led to them being there. Its also kind of hard to relate to them. A lot of their parents are divorced, remarried or single parents. From a two parent home, how do I relate? - Abuoma Nwadike

BV - Horizons

S-LC: How does your service take you out of your comfort zone?
Beets-Veenstra's dorm partnership is Horizons which is an organizations for adults with special needs. What we do as a dorm is, we have monthly events where we get to hang out with the Horizons members and play fun games and eat food. As simple as the service is, it actually puts many people outside of their comfort zones every time we have an event. Lots of people are uncomfortable in situations where they have to interact with people that are different from them, and people with special needs seem so different on the outside that it is hard for lots of people, especially students, to relate. Usually, after a conversation it is easy to see that there are common interests and a relationship is possible! Sometimes it can be really hard to strike up and carry on a conversation with a person with special needs. Sometimes people feel like they are just sitting at a table with not much to talk about and they feel very awkward and out of place. But that is okay! Service-Learning is never meant to be an easy thing. It is good for everyone to be in a situation where they are outside of their comfort zone from time to time. -Sara DeVries

KHvR - Supper House

S-LC: What memory from your service with your partnership will stick with you?
"There was one evening at Supper House when I was waitressing a large group of adults at one table. They were a particularly high-energy and talkative group; it was difficult to forget them! After I had finished serving food to them and a few other groups I was attending, I stopped by their table to see if there was anything else I could do for them. They were loud, but polite, with their replies, exclaiming that everything was good and nothing was needed at this point in their meal. I began to walk away when a man I had not paid particular attention to at that table stopped me. He pointed at the apron I was wearing. "Do you go to Calvin College?" he asked gently. I said that I did. All the waiters and waitresses wear aprons that are provided to us through Supper House. On that particular day, I had happened to pick up a black apron with "Calvin Dining Services" printed on the front. How it got at Supper House, I can only imagine, but I am glad it ended up there! The man continued to make small talk, asking me what year I was and what I was studying. After a minute or so, he asked me if I could do him a favor. "Sure," I replied. He motioned for me to come closer to him and to take a seat away from the rest of his loud table. I did so and proceeded to ask what I could do. He looked at me very seriously and with a small voice asked, "Could you pray for me?" I quickly told him that I could, of course, pray for him. I asked if there was anything in particular I could pray for and he simply said, "Everything. Especially employment." I nodded in understanding and asked if he wanted me to pray with him at that moment. Shaking his head no, he motioned me closer yet again and said so quietly that I had to lean in to hear him, "My name is...Pray for me." I gave a small smile and assured him that I would. When he and his energized table group got up to leave, he smiled slightly at me and walked out. I have not see him since, although that does not mean he has not been at Supper House since, but I continue to pray for him and whatever it may be that he is facing. I am thankful for the many ways God continues to use Supper House and the people there. And how he placed a Calvin College Dining Services apron in front of me that night to spark a simple conversation." - Marissa Ritter 

NVW - Oakdale Neighbors

S-LC: What is your favorite thing about the organization you are serving with?
 “What I like the most about Oakdale Neighbors is their flexibility and their desire to work with you. The members of Oakdale Neighbors also care for the community that they serve in.” - Matt Schanck

S-LC: What memory from your service with your partnership will stick with you?
“I think the memory that will stick with me the most is when I first went to tutor, there was a girl that could barely speak English and I was trying to help her read a book and write a reflection.”
- Matt Schanck

RVD - Baxter Community Center

"This year, RVD has had the privilege to work alongside two great organizations, Baxter Community Center and the soccer ministry through Eastern Avenue CRC. With both partnerships, the residents have the opportunity to work and play alongside the people of the community, and the conversations that occur in the process are wonderful. Spending face-to-face time with the people we serve and learn from has been the best aspect of our time with both organizations."-Josette Baar

SE - Roosevelt Park CRC

 S-LC: What memory from your service with your partnership will stick with you?
 "There was a day when only one ESL student showed up and so we all sat and talked with her and helped her with some words and phrases, but it soon turned to her talking to us completely in Spanish.  It just really reminded me how much of a learning opportunity it can be for me as it is for those students who come." - David Potts

S-LC: What have you learned about Grand Rapids through working with your partnership?

 "I feel like I've really learned how diverse Grand Rapids really is by interacting with the people from our partnership and those who come to it." - David Potts

-Kelsey Stark
Communications Coordinator