Kentucky State University 911 Interfaith Service Project
Kentucky State University (KSU) is committed to serving the public good. For the past three years, the University has been recognized at the national level, for its service achievements by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. KSU students have engaged with all of the United Way of Franklin County agencies including Habitat for Humanity, for the past twenty-five years. They have volunteered in the food banks, homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation centers, domestic violence shelters, public schools, as well as dozens of other affiliated agencies.
The 911 Day of Service Project will begin on Saturday, September 10th and will provide service opportunities at several United Way agencies, and senior citizen homes across the Frankfort community. The main event will be the ribbon cutting and site preparation at a Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build site that morning. Volunteers will be asked to remove and discard part of the back walls of the dilapidated property so that it can be reconstructed throughout the year. The new Habitat for Humanity homeowners will be introduced to their new neighbors and volunteers. This event will also serve as the official kick-off for the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Donations for the United Way agencies will also be collected at KSU’s first football game later that evening. Attending fans will be asked to bring gently worn jackets or coats, clothing, new toys, non-perishable food items and paper products. Raffles and silent auctions will also be sponsored by university fraternities, sororities, clubs and faith-based organizations. All collected monies will be donated to Habitat for Humanity to assist with the Interfaith Build.
Some of the other service projects scheduled on Saturday include a “Repair Affair” for local United Way Agencies and eligible senior citizens’ homes. Volunteers will be assigned to clean, pick up trash, landscape, organize and assist skilled laborers and contractors with repairs. At this date, the following agencies have showed interest in having volunteers assist on September 10th: ACCESS, Frankfort Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter, Franklin County Women’s Shelter, CASA, Frankfort Rehabilitation Center, The Humane Society, the Life House, The Kings Center, Frankfort Parks and Recreation, Green Hill Cemetery, The South Frankfort Community Center, the Simon House, The Frankfort Senior Citizen Center and Bluegrass Community Action. Staff and AmeriCorps Vista workers from the Office of Educational Outreach and the Office of Regional Stewardship and Public Engagement will monitor all volunteers and captured service hours will be entered into the university service database for reporting purposes.
On Sunday, September 11, from 3:00-5:00 PM, the university and Frankfort community will come together at the Green Hill Cemetery, home of the Kentucky African American Civil War Veteran’s Monument, for a Walk of Remembrance to commemorate those lost in 2001 and other senseless acts of violence. It is estimated that well over seven hundred volunteers will participate in the KSU 911 Day of Service events from the campus and Frankfort community at large. Two local high schools are also signing up volunteers for this event, so the number could reach one thousand by the event date.
Many of the local community volunteers will come from churches, synagogues, mosques and other worship centers. Over sixty churches and worship centers from local and surrounding counties will be invited to participate in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge at KSU. They will be encouraged to bring their youth groups, choirs and general congregation to participate in the 911 service events as well as other service activities throughout the semester. Habitat for Humanity was chosen as the main Interfaith Service project because of data released by the Kentucky Homeless Point in Time Count that documented over 15,000 homeless adults and 25,000 homeless children at the end of 2010. The need for affordable housing is an area where college students can see the immediate and transformative benefits of working as a team and “giving back” to a community.
Empirical research and best-practices in service learning demonstrate that projects such as this one can enhance University-Community partnerships, while simultaneously creating opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds to work together addressing real world problems.