Promise House, a student-led service organization committed to addressing socioeconomic barriers that students face, evolved from two focus groups. The Food Team addressed food insecurity, while the College Team promoted college readiness for middle and high school students. Student leaders emerged from these groups. They have helped plan service projects and will fill leadership positions, including College 101 Coordinator, during the spring semester.
For the College 101 team, Lauren recruited students to serve on a student panel for the Call to College event, when groups of 25 sixth grade students visited Otterbein each day for three days in early December. A Call to College is a college access organization from Newark, Ohio. During the student panel, the sixth grade students asked thoughtful questions for the Otterbein students. Otterbein students shared their experiences preparing for college and offered tips for applying to college and making the most of college life. Lauren served as a facilitator and moderator for both groups. The sixth graders were most surprised that college students could not bring their pets in the residence halls, except for turtles and fish!
The food team students planned the opening of the campus food co-op during the fall semester. The Corporation for National and Community Service and Iowa Campus Compact awarded Promise House and CCE a grant to build the capacity of the food team and to provide resources for the first major event. With this grant, they purchased supplies to package macaroni and cheese from the Outreach Program of Union, Iowa. The event, Pack the Mac, occurred on January 20th, 2016. A number of Promise House leaders served as shift leaders for the event, and ensured that volunteers understood their roles on the assembly line and that the rate of packaging went smoothly. Through this project, Lauren furthered a community partnership with Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM), a local choice food pantry, by donating 450 bags of macaroni and cheese. Lauren also created a partnership with Lutheran Social Services food pantry, and donated more than 250 bags. The remaining macaroni and cheese will go to the new campus food co-op, which is open to all Otterbein students starting February 15th, and also serve as a student volunteer resource center.
Written by Lauren Klingshirn