Families of Lourdes University students and residents of Catholic Charities' La Posada Family Emergency Shelter worked side-by-side to clean the streets of Toledo’s Old South End neighborhood.
“Lourdes University felt that La Posada was a good organization to partner with because they are one of the few shelters that accept whole families,” said Sharon Everhardt, assistant professor of Sociology at Lourdes.
The students of Ms. Everhardt’s Sociology 320 course -- Gender, Family and Society -- and the shelter’s residents, in Toledo, took to the streets on the evening of May 8 to remove debris and litter from public spaces and abandoned lots along Eastern and Maumee Avenues.
The work was part of the students service learning project, a program that instills reverence and civic service by engaging students in real-life experiences through community and non-profit organizations.
Michelle Poole, La Posada's housing program coordinator, assisted in organizing the effort and has collaborated with Ms. Everhardt on previous service projects. Another class of Ms. Everhardt's helped the shelter restore and renovate the residence rooms, as well as provide bedding and other household items.
The partnership La Posada Family Emergency Shelter allows students the opportunity to study social issues in the own community, Ms. Everhardt said.
“My students need real learning experiences, and we discuss a lot of social problems. It’s one thing to talk about homelessness and poverty and then to go and see it yourself,” she said. “We paired them up shoulder to shoulder, student and resident as they walked around the neighborhood to clean up in hopes that there could be a meaningful connection.”
Toledo resident Ariel Gromer, 23, said that she learned through helping out those in the community that it takes little to be happy.
“Some of the people there didn’t have anything, but they were happy, thankful, and appreciative,” said Ms. Gromer, who is studying criminal justice at Lourdes.
In all the 22 bags of refuse was collected by 14 students and their families as well as 28 family members of Catholic Charities' La Posada Family Emergency Shelter. In addition to their time, the students donated clothes, blankets, and kitchen supplies to those who live at the shelter.
As for feedback, one lady said, from the porch of her house, that it was refreshing to see people come out to the neighborhood and help out, Ms. Everhardt said.
After the work, Jeanelle Addie, residential manager for La Posada, grilled dinner for all to eat together.
“This is our way to give back. And I think the children enjoyed it. They cleaned the two blocks, they made a sweep of it, and the neighbors were out of their porch. It was a nice day, she said.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.