Campus and community meet to discuss needs on March 31

BOWLING GREEN, KY- Community individuals and organizations, as well as representatives from WKU will meet this March for the spring Campus & Community Network. The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships (ALIVE CCP) will host the Campus & Community Network meeting at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 31 at 3:00pm as a way to bring together people who have an interest in improving the quality of life in South Central Kentucky communities.

“The Campus & Community Network is a time for service-minded individuals and organizations from all sectors of the community to connect and explore ways of working together to address pressing community needs and ongoing challenges,” said Leah Ashwill, director at the ALIVE CCP.

The Campus & Community Network has been a part of ALIVE Center programming since 2011, but has adapted to the changing needs in the South Central Kentucky area. In the beginning the CCN focused on connecting faculty with nonprofit organizations to address community needs identified by Network participants. Now, the CCN encourages participation from community members, nonprofit and business leaders, faculty, staff, and students.

“Essentially, if someone considers themselves an active participant in the community around them, he or she is invited to attend the Campus & Community Network,” Ashwill said.

During this networking meeting, participants will have the opportunity to connect with others who have a shared interest in a particular social issue or area of need in the community. Nonprofit organizational leaders will have the opportunity to connect with potential volunteers and service-learners. Campus professionals can connect with potential partners for community-based teaching and research endeavors. Business professionals, community individuals, and students who want to explore a way to give back can connect with a number of service organizations with which to serve.

 

As part of the online registration at http://www.wku.edu/alive, participants should provide a 150 word or less description of the assets, resources, area of expertise or skill set they bring as a potential partner or volunteer, as well as a social issue or need you wish to address through a service endeavor or campus and community collaboration.

The goal of the Campus & Community Network is to provide an ongoing opportunity for service-minded individuals and organizations to connect, build relationships, and reap the mutual benefits of working together to address specific community needs. “Bringing together an actively engaged group of citizens from multiple sectors of the community creates an opportunity for a more successful and sustainable community-wide effort to improve quality of life for all South Central Kentuckians,” Ashwill said.

The Campus & Community Network is designed to result in the development of the following opportunities for meeting participants:

Volunteer opportunities with community organizations

Collaborative service-learning projects

Community-based research projects

Organizational capacity-building projects

Organizational consulting projects

Other community development opportunities identified by participants.

 

The Campus & Community Network serves as a connector for campus and community members that work collaboratively to impact the community.  For more information contact Leah Ashwill at leah.ashwill@wku.edu

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WKU Hill House Celebrates Community Partnerships Day

Hill House Celebrates Community Partnerships Day

Hill House Graduate Students Host Open House and Proclamation Signing

BOWLING GREEN, KY- On September 18th the WKU Hill House, a graduate assistant program that allows graduate coursework to be applied within the community, will celebrate Community Partnerships Day with an open house and proclamation signing.

Not only does the WKU Hill House give students the opportunity to learn the practical value of their academic training to strengthen the community, but it is also home to the three individuals working within the program. The students are selected to live and work together at the Hill House with a shared vision of building a strong local community while improving the quality of life.

Keira Martin, a Louisville native and second year Hill House student said, “I’m a part of Student Affairs. I’ve been able to bring in the Student Affairs side to the community. Anything you want to see done you can make it happen here.”

Through the WKU Hill House program, Martin established Project L.I.F.E. (Leadership Independence Freedom Empowerment). Project L.I.F.E. teaches the importance of obtaining a quality education; developing leadership skills and a true sense of independence through self led opportunities.

New members of the Hill House include Louisville natives Omega Buckner and Mckinzie Willard. Buckner is in the beginning stage of creating a community assets inventory that would eventually take surveys to find out skills and assets that the community holds. Once the surveys are complete, Omega and her team will build a plan to incorporate those skills within there own community.

Willard will work with the City of Bowling Green Neighborhood Association where she will assist in providing support for the association’s success. She plans to address local issues and concerns within the community through event planning, effective meetings, and promotional flyers to raise awareness.

President Gary A. Ransdell and Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson will sign the proclamation at 3:30 pm on September 18. Guests can visit the house located at 741 East 11th Street. Refreshments will be provided during the open house. For more information contact hillhouse@wku.edu or call 270-782-0082.

The ALIVE CCP connects students, faculty, staff, and community members to resources and opportunities for meaningful service and public scholarship. The ALIVE CCP supports community development locally and abroad through campus and community partnerships.

Where is the food?

Written by: Aly Badinger

It is easy to look down practically any main street in Bowling Green and see restaurant after restaurant; however, physical presence does not indicate availability for many people of the Bowling Green and Warren County community. The Campus and Community Network group called Food Access: Where is the Food? is dedicated to something many families take for granted:  their next meal.

The group had its first meeting this March at the GEO Center near Warren Central High School. It emerged from the annual Campus and Community Partnerships meeting held each October.  Members of this group have a passion for food access while having careers in many other fields.

Rebecca Perez, Coordinator for Cumberland Trace Family Resource Center said, “Although there is an abundance of resources, if families are not aware of how or where to access the resource, it cannot be utilized to the fullest.  Not only is it vital for families to have access to food, it is important that the food be fresh, healthy, readily available and that they understand their choices and ways food can be prepared.” With this in mind, group members searched for a place to start.

It was decided that a more comprehensive and easier-to-read guide for food pantries would be a great first undertaking. This begins with updating food pantry hours of operation and types of food provided. Families can experience many headaches when trying to remember the varying hours of multiple pantries, that some serve specific demographics, or only serve hot meals on specific days of the week. Not only would the guide use symbols instead of one particular language, it will connect food pantries via existing bus routes.  

The journey begins with a single step. A better guide to food pantry access is the first step in the grander journey to bridging the gap between food resources and families looking to thrive in the Bowling Green community.

For information about attending a Campus and Community Partnership meeting, please email the ALIVE Center at alivebg@wku.edu

Community members join to address immigrant and refugee issues

Written by: Aly Badinger

Imagine that you’ve just arrived in a foreign community. The people are different. The food is different. The language is different. Many days you are simply surviving, yet you long to flourish. This is reality for hundreds of families entering Bowling Green and other cities across the country. Thankfully, there is a coalition of citizens, businesses, and nonprofits that are determined to help families with these challenges and many more.

On February 13, 2013, the members of the Community Partnership for Immigrant and Refugee Issues gathered in a large conference room in the Warren County School Board Building. The group is unparalleled in its diversity of representation and overall breadth of interest in the community it assists, serving needs in the areas of health care, education, transportation, career services, and housing.

As the meeting began, energy filled the room while old friends shook hands and talked about children and sports, and new acquaintances asked about the organizations represented. During the meeting the spotlight passed from person to person as they shared about their upcoming events, goals, and concerns. News ranged from the joys of the participation of English as Second Language students at Cumberland Trace Elementary in a father-daughter dance to asking for volunteers for upcoming Hispanic health fair.

Jennifer Bell, the director of the Center for Development Acculturation and Resolution Services (CEDARS), shared what she enjoyed most about the group, “I enjoy the opportunity to hear how the present organizations are involved in efforts to serve our refugee and immigrant populations, especially small organizations and faith-based groups who are working to support federally funded programs.”

If all of these people are already helping families, why does a large meeting help? Bell explained, “This meeting paves a path for collaboration so that the many parts serving Warren County’s immigrants and refugees may contribute to a more complete whole. Also, the group allows service providers and active volunteers to connect names and faces. This recognition furthers dialogue and relations.”

 

An example of such dialogue and relations was the introduction of the new president of the International Center of Bowling Green and Owensboro, Mr. Albert Mbangfu. His presence brought a round of applause, and many have hope for what he can bring to the table as a new, influential contributor to the immigrant and refugee community.

 

Overall, partners depart from this group feeling refreshed and connected. With such motivation there is hope that each meeting will contain increasingly more joyful news of better support systems for immigrant and refugee families of Bowling Green and Warren County.

For information about attending a Campus and Community Partnership meeting, please email the ALIVE Center at alivebg@wku.edu.

Campus and Community Network – Partners for Food Access: Where is the Food?

From Thanksgiving and Sunday dinners to a family’s favorite weekday restaurant, it is evident that food and meals are integral parts of American culture. For many families meals foster happy memories and moments of togetherness. However, for many other families commonly overlooked, access to food is a daily struggle and not only for quick meals, but for quality food that provides nutrients for growing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The ALIVE Center’s Campus and Community Network group called Partners for Food Access: Where is the Food? is determined to examine this issue more closely and be an agent for change in Bowling Green and surrounding counties. The group is in its early stages and is gathering information and seeking to plan community events to build awareness.

If you are a part of a business, nonprofit or an individual community member and would like to contribute to this cause the group’s first meeting is this Thursday, March 21st at 3pm at the GEO Center (Morgantown Rd) in Bowling Green.

Please contact the Community Partnerships Intern at aly.badinger@gmail.com or the ALIVE Center at alivebg@wku.edu or (270) 782-0082 if you plan to attend the meeting or if you would like more information about other Campus and Community Network groups.

Make a difference during the holiday season

 

The ALIVE Center shares volunteer opportunities throughout the year on our website at http://www.wku.edu/alive. Each December, we provide a list of ways that campus and community members can make a difference during the holidays. If you had additional information to add to this list, please feel free to email the information to alivebg@wku.edu.

Now until December 2nd, 2011 — Teen Angel Program

Help teenagers enrolled in local schools have a better holiday by giving a gift card or tax-deductible donation to the Teen Angel Program. Gift cards from Target, Walmart, K Mart, Kohl’s, and Greenwood Mall are being accepted. Please drop off donations at either the ALIVE Center (1818 31-W Bypass) or Community Education (1227 Westen Ave.)

Please contact either 270-782-0082 or 270-842-4281 for more information.

Now until December 12th – Salvation Army Angel Tree

Visit Greenwood Mall to be an “Angel” by shopping for a local child for Christmas.  Information about Angels are provided on the tree outside of JC Penney. For more information, call 270-843-3485.

Now until Dec 10th, 2011 — Nat’s Bike Drive

Nat’s Outdoor Sports is partnering with the Warren County Jaycees to collect bicycles for children in the area. Nat’s will service and repair used bikes. Drop of the new or used bicycles to Nat’s store before December 10th.

Please contact Nat’s at 270-842-6211 for more information.

Now until Dec 20th, 2011 — Toys for Tots

Donate new, unwrapped toys to Toys for Tots and help a child better enjoy the holiday season. White boxes with the “Toys for Tots” logo are located throughout the city in several locations including Toys R Us, Big Lots, Dollar General, Walgreens, Barnes and Noble, Greenwood Mall, and many others.

Please contact Greg Hudson at 270-991-3578 for more information.

Now until December 24th, 2011 — Bell Ringers

Volunteers are needed to ring bells and collect donations for the Salvation Army kettles at various locations. Volunteers can ring bells from 10am -8pm. Please visit the Salvation Army office to fill out a form and present your photo ID to check out a kettle.

Please contact the Salvation Army at 270-843-3485 for more information.

Soup Kitchen Servers

Volunteers are needed to help serve food at the Salvation Army soup kitchen Monday through Friday from 11:30am-12pm. Please call ahead to set up a day to serve.

Please contact the Salvation Army at 270-843-3485 for more information.

Canned Goods and Nonperishable Foods

There are several food pantries in need of food and donations throughout this holiday season; specifically The American Red Cross and St. Vincent DePaul. Please donate to these, or any local food bank and assist in helping a family have food in their bellies during the holidays.

For a full listing of food banks, please visit our website: http://www.wku.edu/alive/communityresources/food_assistance.php.

Women’s Team Outreaches the Goal

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Written by: KaiLee Viehland; Photo by: Clinton Lewis

The Lady Topper basketball team does more than play ball–they dedicate themselves to community outreach. They are more than student athletes. They are caring ambassadors for Western Kentucky University.

For years, the women’s basketball team has been giving back to the community in the form of service. They work with several organizations in the area such as The Center for Courageous Kids, Warren County Public Schools, Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society, and the Salvation Army.

Another organization the Lady Toppers work with is the Boys & Girls Club. Last summer, in the off-season, the players went to the Boys & Girls Club and hosted a camp for the youth. They played games and did drills with the kids, but most importantly, they simply hung out and interacted with them. There was no hidden agenda. The Lady Toppers were just there to spend time with the kids for the day.

The team constantly looks for new ways to get involved in the community. One new event was the “Spread the Red” Education Day held last month in Diddle Arena. All third through sixth graders in Warren County were invited to enjoy a boxed lunch and a game at no cost. The atmosphere at Diddle Arena was infused with energy and Hilltopper spirit. It was also a record-breaking game for the Lady Toppers. They broke their attendance record with 7,100 in attendance and went on to to beat South Alabama with the support of their pint-sized fans.

In addition to the Spread the Red Education Day, the Lady Toppers also had a Pink Game to honor and recognize those who have breast cancer or have survived it. In January, they had a Critter Classic game where they asked fans to bring in a type of cleaning supply to be donated to the local Humane Society in exchange for a free ticket to the game.

Even though some of the events do bring people to the games, the women and coaching staff do not participate in community involvement or host events to receive recognition or get a job-well-done pat on the back.

“We do it as a means to give back. They’re obviously here to play ball, but they’re also here to give back and help the community. By getting out there and being involved in the community, the girls can touch people’s lives. They can also serve as role models. Whenever we went to the Boys & Girls Club last summer everyone was running up asking for their autographs. You could tell that the children were so excited for them to be there,” said Julia Reed, Women’s Basketball Graduate Assistant/Travel Coordinator.

Reed said the team is currently working on becoming involved in a mentoring program. They hope to go in and read to students. At some of their events there is not always a lot of time to sit down and talk to all the children and tell them how they arrived at the collegiate level. They hope to be able to do this with the mentoring program, since it is important for children to relate to the athletes and see that they can play at the collegiate level too.

Between being on the road and balancing class schedules, it is hard to arrange times for everyone to be available to participate in the community outreach events. However, it is important to Western Kentucky University, the coaches, and the player.

When asked if the community outreach had any effect on the players, Reed said, “The girls will come in and ask if there is anything they can do or anyone they can help out. They really do care about the community and giving back is important to each and every one of them.”

Love the Way You Lie to Raise Domestic Violence Awareness

BOWLING GREEN, KY– Community members and students are invited to observe domestic violence awareness month on October 12, 2010 in Mass Media Auditorium on Western Kentucky University’s campus at 7pm. The event, Love the Way You Lie, will raise awareness of intimate partner violence and highlight ways in which students and community members can make a difference in their everyday lives.

The event will be presented by the WKU ALIVE Center in partnership with Hope Harbor, WKU Women’s Studies, and Barren River Safe Spaces (BRASS). There will be featured speakers that consist of a BRASS advocate and a speaker from the Green Dot program, which is a violence intervention and prevention center.

“Women ages 20-24 are at the highest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence,” said Alyssa Stephens, coordinator of the event. “That’s our friends, sorority sisters, people in our classes, or even just across the hall.  This event is about knowing that it isn’t okay to be verbally, emotionally or physically abused, that you don’t have to stay, and that it isn’t your responsibility to save them or change them.  We want to make a statement and show people that we are all here to help them, and that there are ways that each of us can make a difference in everyday life. ”

The evening will also consist of interpretive dance, one survivor’s story, a dramatization, and an opportunity for every attendee to take a bystander pledge. During the bystander pledge, people will have the opportunity to pledge to stop domestic violence wherever they see it.

All members of the community and students are invited to this event. There will also be domestic violence information at booths outside the auditorium during the night of the event.

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If there are any questions about Love the Way You Lie please contact Alyssa Stephens at alyssa.stephens863@wku.edu or (270) 782-0082.

Project AFFECT: Success!

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BOWLING GREEN, KY  –  28 campus and community organizations held booths at a student engagement fair, Project AFFECT, at Western Kentucky University’s Centennial Mall on Thursday, September 16.  Each participating organization offered information on how to get involved through service, as well as engaged visitors in hands-on activities reflective of their cause.  The event was organized by the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships, in coordination  with  Housing and Residence Life (HRL) and the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR).

The overriding purpose for the event was to show students the many ways they can get involved on campus and in the community through service.  In addition to service opportunities, Project AFFECT exposed students to a minor at WKU directly related to service-learning and volunteerism:  The American Humanics Association participated in the event and gave out information about a major/minor in nonprofit administration.

Dr. Raymond Poff is the advisor for this new minor.  “This minor helps prepare students to work in the nonprofit sector which, in the USA alone, includes over 1.5 million organizations; internationally, there are many NGOs or non-governmental organizations. Student service involvement is an excellent way to become meaningful contributors to their communities while helping others.”

After speaking with each organization, it is safe to say each booth averaged around 60 visits.  Students were able to speak directly with representatives from each organization and ask them specific questions, which allowed them to get an idea of all the different ways they could contribute to that particular organization.  The types of service opportunities offered by participating organizations satisfied a wide variety of interests ranging from youth to animals, and many more.

“I hope you all will make this event a habit. Now that I’ve heard from my students, I see that this event has made a huge difference! Many of my students chose groups that they would have never even thought about without having the tables there with people to answer questions.”

This event would not have been possible without the support of all 28 organizations that participated, the more than 1,400 students that attended the event, or without WKU Special Events for providing the tables, chairs, and sound system.  This was the first of many more engagement fairs the WKU ALIVE Center hopes to organize.

If there are any questions about Project AFFECT, please contact Jane Wood at jvwood12@gmail.com or (270) 782-0966.  If there are any questions regarding the ALIVE Center, please contact Leah Ashwill at leah.ashwill@wku.edu or (270) 782-0812.

Neighborhood Collaborations

Hill House Dinner

Hill House Dinner

By: Aurelia Spaulding
On any given day, recent Western Kentucky University graduate Greg Capillo will help his neighbor, Dave, carry bags inside or talk to him while he works out in the yard. They talk about life, as well as the community in which they live—the community around East 11th and 12th Streets in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Capillo, along with three other students, moved into the house at 741 East 11th Street with the purpose of using their academics and interests to develop the community around them. However, as a result, they became a part of the community, a “common denominator” amongst the residents Capillo says. Since everybody in the area knows them, they can build and create a public space.

The public space now known as the Hill House used to be home to drug trafficking and domestic violence until Bob Basham purchased the house and made renovations a few years ago. He wanted the home to be used to better the community and brought the idea of a community engagement house to the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships.

WKU graduate students Phuong Vu and Thang Le, both from Hanoi, Vietnam, and Senior Joey Coe lived alongside Capillo in the Hill House during the 2009-2010 academic year.

The Hill House students communicate one-on-one to develop relationships with their neighbors, as well as host Sunday dinner at their home each week to share stories and give thanks. “There are people who would like to see the life of the community be different, and they have just as much stake in it as us,” Capillo said.

Rsuming this fall, the Hill House project will serve as an interdisciplinary graduate assistantship program that allows graduate students to live and work out of Hill House, applying their coursework to real life community development opportunities.

Embarking on year two, Hill House residents will build upon the infrastructure developed by year one residents, which most importantly, in a previous student resident’s opinion, is grounded in trust and relationship-building with neighboring students and community residents. Year one students laid the groundwork for future community development efforts.

During the first year, the Hill House students conducted asset-based assessments of the community they were becoming a part of through conversation and valuable interaction. They listened to neighbors and developed specific project ideas, while drawing on their different academic areas of expertise to address neighborhood issues and concerns. They served as connectors between the community’s assets and residents’ needs.

As year one students wrap up their year and year two students prepare for the year ahead, Hill House residents and coordinators will take part in a camping retreat scheduled to orient the students, work on teambuilding activities, and develop timelines for the projects that lie ahead. Thanks to financial support provided by the WKU Graduate Studies office and alternately by the Deans of WKU’s six colleges, four new graduate students will have the opportunity to start anew in the fall of 2010.

Hill House residents beginning in the fall come from Potter College’s Departments of Communication and Folk Studies, College of Education’s Department of Student Affairs, and College of Health & Human Services Department of Public Health. Year two students this fall will continue to develop the Neighborhood Network, an email and web-based neighborhood communication tool, as well as complete a neighborhood weatherization project initiated by previous Hill House residents in coordination with local homeowners, Broadway United Methodist Church’s Craftsmen for Christ, and Community Action of Southern Kentucky. Year two students will also continue to report program activities through blogging at cehouse.blogspot.com.

As new Hill House residents connect with neighbors, they will utilize their academic graduate programs of study to develop new projects and programs that address neighborhood perceived issues and challenges. Ideally, such projects will be the cornerstone of their graduate research and theses projects. As described by WKU Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility’s Program Coordinator, Terry Shoemaker, “Hill House works against the idea that students are simply citizens in deferral; rather it creates a framework for students to be presently active as practicing citizens.”

The Hill House submerses students in a reallife field placement that allows them to develop their civic agency through teambuilding, problem-solving, and critical thinking opportunities alongside active community members. Through vital campus and community partnerships, students learn the practical value of their academic training to strengthen communities locally and beyond.