Community Service | Poverty & Homelessness Week
National Poverty and Homelessness Week occurs annually the week before Thanksgiving, and is a time for Americans to give back as they celebrate abundance and blessings in their lives. Each year, CARE (Centre Action Reaches Everyone) and the Office of Religious Life sponsor events on campus and in the local community to raise awareness about poverty and empower students to engage in solutions.
Here you will find a schedule for the coming year as well as student reflections about each of the past year’s events. All students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to get involved. If you are interested in signing up for the service and enrichment opportunities, please email Patrick Noltemeyer at Patrick.Noltemeyer@centre.edu. All other events are open to the public.
Saturday, November 12th
-Soup’s on Us – Danville Presbyterian Church
-Urban Goatwalker – Jefferson Street Baptist Church, Louisville
Saturday, November 19th
-Soup’s on Us – Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Space is limited for these events. Please email Patrick Noltemeyer to sign up.
Soup’s on Us
Soups on Us is a great program that provides food to the Danville community in a way that I think preserves the families' dignity. They do not have to show up at the church so that everyone sees that they are in need and be embarrassed that they cannot provide food for their families. Soups on us works like "meals on wheels" where the only people who know the families’ names are the administrators and the deliverers. I think this way we are able to provide food to families that would otherwise be embarrassed to ask for it. It also gives people who can’t leave their homes much a chance to socialize at least once a week and chat and visit with the deliverers every Saturday. So this way, Soup’s on Us does a great job of serving people that can’t or won’t go to the traditional soup kitchen.
My favorite part is delivering. There is one route in which we stop by a blind man's apartment. He is absolutely brilliant and knows something about everything. He loves to talk to us when we stop by and could probably sit and chat for about three hours if we let him. It breaks my heart every week when we can only stay for a few minutes, but at least were able to reach out to him at least once a week.
-Brittany Corrigan ‘11
The Urban Goatwalker is coming up on its 19th year and is basically an open-mic night for the homeless community in Louisville. Usually the people who run the Goatwalker will drive people in from nearby shelters to participate, and members of the church will make all sorts of desserts for free. Our job is to serve the people who come and allow them to relax. Many of them perform on the guitar and piano, or just sing or recite poetry they've written. I had a great time helping out and getting to know some of the people who came. Especially with the current economy, the Goatwalker has seen a lot more new faces, particularly children. It was hard wondering where they would go after they left for the night, but I felt better knowing I had given them a good meal, and they really seemed to enjoy themselves! It was a very rewarding experience, and I will definitely go back in the spring.
-Jasmin Kaeser ‘11
APO Box Sleepout
Alpha Phi Omega has sponsored Box Sleep Out for over 8 years, and we really wanted to try and step it up this year. I remember one story that Dr. Axtell told in my REL 110 class about the first time that he saw true hunger. He walked by this one man who begged for food everyday on his way to work in a developing country, and then one day when Dr. Axtell walked by that man, that man was dead. He died from starvation. I remember thinking "Woah. I definitely couldn't imagine seeing someone starving to death. What would I even do? What could I do?"
I think that it was these reasons, stories, and people that really inspired me to help with Box Sleep Out this year and to have Paul Whitely, one of the founders of the Urban Goatwalker come to speak.
I found it extremely rewarding and helpful to not only have a guiding speaker there who has worked with the homeless in Louisville for over 20 years, but to have an eclectic mix of students present: those who had taken the Poverty & Homelessness class at Centre to those who had never seen hunger first-hand, to those who lived on food stamps. It was an amazing experience to see all these different backgrounds and different experiences with hunger and homelessness (or lack there of) come together for a few hours and have an honest discussion.
-Emily Niehaus ‘11
Wendell Berry Convocation
It was great to see Centre students alongside members of the Danville community. It just goes to show that work like Wendell Berry's has a universal charm about it.
-Julie Fleming ‘14
Wendell Berry's reading amazed me, not only in his decades-old environmental stand, but in his belief in the value of community. The short story he read was inspiring not only because it was beautifully written, which it was, but in its view that it is important for people to stick together and help each other out. The simple grace of Berry's prose and poesy lies in his deep belief in the value of humanity, coupled with the author's deep conviction that humanity is best served not in dehumanizing industrialism, but in the benevolent, caring lap of community.
-Marc Bentley ‘11
Uprooting Poverty in Appalachia Convocation
The Uprooting Poverty in Appalachia convocation during Homelessness and Poverty week was an enriching experience for both the Centre and Danville communities. Speaker Randy Wilson, a 5th generation Appalachian and Centre grad was passionate and proud of the history of his people, but also about today’s search for renewable energy. After speaking on eastern Kentucky mines, mountain top removal, and climate change, those of us in attendance realized that this current situation and solution in Appalachia is not a chance to feel guilty, but rather “to be a part of something we can tell our grandkids about,” as Randy said.
-Olivia Orrender ‘13
The World Marketplace had stunning examples of crafts and other goods made by people from around the world striving to become self-sufficient by bettering their economic status. By buying a simple necklace, I was able to take part in the growth of a family's wealth thereby allowing them to do such things as afford an education for their children or nourish themselves and their children with healthier food or even to buy machinery to expand their business. Personally, knowing that I had a part in this, no matter how small, made me feel amazing! So I say: Go fair trade! Go people of the world!
-Elizabeth Ko ‘13
For me, our Oxfam fast opened my eyes to see many of the dire situations of individuals, and even communities, around the world. In a way, I felt a sense of guilt in not doing more for these people, however I gained hope from the Oxfam presentation. The videos we viewed highlighted many essentials of service that are being implemented in troubled areas, and the key to making a positive mark in society. We noticed, while giving material contributions are wonderful, true growth for the people in need comes from their learning to be self sufficient and progressive. In brief, I found that Oxfam is truly helping others help themselves. I was inspired to carry on that initiative through my own work in service.
-Travis Adams ‘14
Oxfam Hunger Banquet
I was in the lower class group. When I got there, I did not feel cheated or upset in any way, I felt that was somehow justified. I kept hearing the upper class people say how they felt "guilty" and I think my justification at not belonging to the wealthiest group of people in the world, even for an hour, made me realize that it was because I actually felt guilty about be so blessed on a daily basis and not doing anything to help people I know need the things we take advantage of, but never make an effort to share. I think most Americans and privileged individuals around the world feel this guilt every day as they grow up and learn that we are able to help but don't. I appreciated the Hunger Banquet Simulation helping me to realize what I already knew and giving me some ways to do it.
I kind of wish it had shocked me more, honestly. And I wish it hadn't seemed like such an easy thing to do when the upper classes shared food with us. It was somewhat unfathomable to think that they were going to sit there and eat, staring at us with nothing. It's sad how obvious that seemed to me on the floor, but not when I'm the one with the rolls.
-Sarah Bugg ‘14
Canned Food Drive
I loved participating in the canned food drive! I think it was very successful and will help many families in the Danville community have a better Thanksgiving this year. I also loved the fact that the Centre students personally went out in the community to collect cans. This really helped to improve the relationship and connection with Centre students and the very generous community that surrounds Centre. As we all know, Centre students can really get stuck in the Centre bubble, so opportunities like the canned food drive offer great for a chance us to serve and burst our bubble a little bit- in positive way!
-Taylor Knight ‘13