Tuesday September 8, 2009

Service Saturdays

Fall Saturdays will be for more than college football for some University of Dayton students. SERVICE Saturdays, starting Sept. 12, will include rehabbing houses with low-income families, neighborhood beautification projects and working with a church and homeless shelter.

While area football fans sit down to watch their favorite college teams on Saturdays this fall, some University of Dayton students will head into Dayton neighborhoods for community service projects.

SERVICE Saturdays will begin Sept. 12 and run through Nov. 21. The service activities will include rehabbing houses with low-income families, neighborhood beautification projects and working with a church and homeless shelter.

The SERVICE Saturdays program expands the Into the Streets program that was held on only one weekend.

"Into the Streets attempted to give students a taste of meaningful, reflective service without having to commit to volunteering long-term. We did it all on one weekend, which challenged our community partners and sometimes left out students who had a prior commitment that particular weekend," said Nick Cardilino, director of the University of Dayton Center for Social Concern. "SERVICE Saturdays will stretch those service opportunities to allow more students to be involved and to help more community partners."

The Center for Social Concern also offers an intensive one-weekend service program during the University's fall break, Oct. 8-11.

"REAL Dayton will be a three-and-a-half day program during which participants will serve in several different projects and experience some of the positive aspects of Dayton," Cardilino said. "They will take a lot of time to reflect, discuss and pray about how they can increase their civic and religious responsibilities here."

While some students will stay in town during fall break for service projects, others will head to Chicago, New Orleans and Camden, N.J., for fall breakout trips.

In Chicago, participants will examine the causes and solutions of urban poverty while staying on the west side of Chicago. Discussion topics will include racial profiling, ghetto policing, neighborhood regentrification and building a framework for understanding poverty.

In Camden, students will work in schools, at a drop-in center for persons affected by HIV and AIDS, and at the South Jersey Food Bank, among others.

The New Orleans trip will involve hands-on service in the rebuilding process in city neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina.

While most of the Center for Social Concern's projects involve working in cities, one group will head to the country. The Rural Plunge, Sept. 25-27, is an immersion into the challenges facing farm communities. Students will live the farm life with families in the Miami Valley's northern counties.

The mission of the University of Dayton Campus Ministry's Center for Social Concern is to seek to unite faith and action for justice through education, promoting the moral principles of Catholic social teaching and opportunities for leadership in reflective service.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.