December 2018 Service-Learning Newsletter

Service-Learning Hors D'oeuvres Hour

By: Ginny Steinkamp

The Center for Service-Learning values the important relationship between community partners and the faculty of Benedictine College. These partnerships are the foundation upon which many service-learning courses are built. For this reason, on October 24th, the Center hosted a Service-Learning Hors D’oeuvres Hour. Meredith Stoops, Coordinator of Service-Learning at Benedictine, describes the event as “an opportunity for faculty and community partners to be able to talk in a casual, noncommittal way to get ideas going for future service-learning partnerships.” This fall’s gathering was the second of its kind. In April, the Center held the first Hors D’oeuvres Hour, an event modelled after the Community-Based Learning Soirée of Central College (Pella, IA), an institution which provided substantial guidance during the initial chapters of Benedictine’s own service-learning program. With representation of faculty members from a number of departments including Journalism and Mass Communications, Engineering, Education, and Art to name a few, and a variety of local Atchison organizations such as Catholic Charities, CASA, Atchison County Food Pantry, and the Atchison Community Health Clinic, this semester’s event was successful as a means to facilitate dialogue and encourage future service-learning programs. Stoops says, “Building connections between the wider Atchison community and the College, that’s a fruit of this whether or not it leads to specifically service-learning partnerships…This is also an important result of this event.” The Service-Learning Hors D’oeuvres Hour effectively works to bridge the gap between the Atchison and Benedictine community.

Both community and faculty members found the event positive overall. Stoops says the feedback she received from attendees was “overwhelmingly positive.” Linda Stecher, Director of the Atchison County Food Pantry at First Christian Church, noted, “It’s a positive event that in the long run brings people together. In the long run, that benefits the community.” Julie Crum, Principal of Central School, attended the Hors D’oeuvres Hour for the first time this year. She commented that, although she wished she could have talked to more faculty members, the event was very nice overall. Crum has had various Benedictine classes working at Central School, and greatly appreciates the students’ efforts to help strengthen the image of the school. Benedictine students have helped teach art classes, and Education majors have hosted events at Central School such as the recent “Parents’ Night Out.” The Center for Service-Learning hopes to continue fostering relationships between faculty members and community partners that are beneficial for all parties involved. With the success of the Service-Learning Hors D’oeuvres Hour, the Center anticipates continued interest in service-learning courses.