Purdue University’s Baptist Student Foundation
launches community project
By David Burke and Rhonda Ashford
Spring-i-fi-ca-tion (noun): event in which students at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., prepare local residents’ yards for the approaching spring. Springification is a community service project that became reality because the university’s Baptist Student Foundation—also known as “The Found”—participated in the Missional Church Learning Experience (MCLE) of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS). MCLE is a program in which churches and other groups learn to reach out to and minister along with a community.
To determine a need on campus, our group questioned friends and random individuals within the student body. We heard many “pothole problems,” or issues that could be addressed but wouldn’t make a real difference in the long run. We settled on Springification, which is a spring version of “Winterization,” a long-standing, campus-wide service project held each fall and sponsored by the Wesley Foundation.
We welcomed additional friends into the group, and all were asked to recruit someone outside of The Found. Because MCLE stresses that the community to be served be included in planning, we resisted moving forward until we could gain input from individuals outside of The Found. The project gained momentum as soon as outside individuals were aboard.
We mailed postcards to residents who had received Winterization in the past, asking them to indicate the services they’d like performed to prepare their properties for spring. Most cards were completed and returned to us within a week. Approximately three days later, we began to receive phone calls from residents who had heard about Springification but had not received a postcard. Within two weeks of mailing the postcards, we were requested to provide services at twice as many houses as originally planned. Work was performed on houses both on and off campus.
On project day in March 2012, 93 volunteers served at 41 houses. Two other houses were served the following week. The project had begun humbly with four students from The Found serving as the planning committee. That number grew to six or seven. Then, another four to six individuals began attending meetings regularly. All other volunteers assisted on the day of the event only.
Grateful for the work that was done for them, some residents donated to the project, although they had been informed that the service was free. In addition, local businesses donated. The donations covered the majority of costs.
At the last meeting, we discussed what went right and what went wrong, deciding that we’d like to pursue the project again. Because we received donations and used only a portion of the MCLE grant, the project can continue for at least a few years. Next year, we hope for a greater response from the Purdue student body so that we can reach more residents and expand to the size of the Winterization project.
For more information about MCLE, contact the Rev. Glynis LaBarre, ABHMS transformation strategist, at email@example.com or 800-222-3872, x2412. For more information about the Baptist Student Foundation, visit its Web page.
Purdue University students David Burke and Rhonda Ashford are active members of the Baptist Student Foundation.
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