Jewell kicks off Homecoming Week with Serve and Celebrate

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Cameron VanDyke, junior volunteering at Serve and Celebrate at Homecoming 2013.

At William Jewell College, the world of “Deo Fisus Labora,” school-wide celebrations and opportunities to serve those around us often go hand-in-hand.  Therefore, it’s only suiting that the kickoff event for our 2014 Homecoming will be Serve and Celebrate, an event where students can sign up to complete service projects at a variety of Kansas City metropolitan organizations and causes. Among this year’s locations are Westside Housing, Giving Grove, Immacolata Manor and Synergy Services, all of which share deep connections with William Jewell.

Westside Housing is a nonprofit community development corporation (CDC), which was founded in 1973 to foster housing equity, beautify neighborhoods and ensure that houses were not demolished. While it seeks to improve conditions extending outside its Westside roots, it is currently focusing on improving the residences within Kansas City’s Latino community. The houses they build and renovate are specifically created to maximize affordability and sustainability by using green, energy-efficient methods. With a similar desire to simultaneously serve their neighbors and protect the planet, it comes as no surprise that William Jewell is listed as one of their “Strategic Partners.”

Giving Grove
Volunteers with Giving Grove cultivating a garden at Barstow Elementary School.

Giving Grove seeks to remedy “food deserts”—areas where impoverished residents are unable to find affordable, healthy food—by cultivating edible tree gardens in unused areas, such as vacant lots. In addition, they provide self-help services to teach people how to eat right and grow their own food, thus cutting down on daily cost of living. The provided produce fields are perennial, allowing free fruits and vegetables to be collected in the future. They also provide a recommended plant list for volunteers to maximize growth and healthiness. Founded in fall 2012, it is a relatively new organization full of ambition and potential, and believes that school groups such as Jewell might just be the key to spreading its point—and its seeds—across Kansas City.

Immacolata Manor
Immacolata Manor is home to 38 developmentally disabled residents.

The large, majestic house that gives Immacolata Manor its name was originally bought by the Joseph Bruening family in the early 20th century and was sold in 1981 to a group called “Friends of the Handicapped” at the time. Immacolata Manor expanded to the nonprofit organization it is today by converting the mansion into a home for people with developmental disabilities. While many are nursing home-aged women, younger women and a few men also live in the house. The spirit of community service is so rampant at the house that 35 out of its 38 residents complete volunteer work, while some are also able to hold jobs. This chain reaction spreads throughout Clay County as businesses come to support Manor events.

Synergy Services seeks to empower and protect homeless and runaway children and abused women. It began in 1970 as a shelter for troubled children, but later expanded their horizons to stop domestic violence in the community. Its services include crisis hotlines, transitional housing, counseling. Synergy Services helps also caters to teenage parents, proving lessons in how to raise their children and offering them support. With years of generous donations from Jewell, it can continue to bring hope to those who need it most.

These organizations are valuable parts of the Jewell family, providing a further testament to the serving spirit that the college hopes to pass on to each of its students. No matter which organization or group a student is in, they can all come together to benefit those less fortunate in the midst of a weeklong celebration.  Homecoming excitement, therefore, is not something limited just to Jewell students, but expand to the whole Kansas City metropolitan area that benefits from it.

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