Partners for Peace, a hands-on social justice initiative that brings together students, faculty and others in the Elmhurst College community to perform service work, has become so popular that this year, members will split up to tackle two community service projects in one day in struggling Chicago neighborhoods.
On Saturday, September 29, the two groups, each with about 60 Elmhurst students and other volunteers, will travel to two communities on Chicago’s West Side to do service work that meets a particular need there. One group will offer free health screenings and give away fresh produce to residents in the West Garfield neighborhood, considered a food desert because of the lack of nearby grocery stores. Music will be provided by the Chicago youth gospel group Joshua’s Troop.
In the second project, participants will beautify the inside and outside of the 60-year-old Christian Valley Baptist Church, in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Students will paint the fellowship hall and baptismal pool, and plant fresh grass and greenery around the outside of the church. On the front lawn of the church, in the neighborhood where music legend Benny Goodman grew up and learned to play the clarinet, the Elmhurst College Jazz Band will perform.
This year’s efforts mark the fourth year that Partners for Peace has helped neighborhoods in Chicago that contend daily with violence, poverty and neglect. Each year the effort has drawn more interest from the campus community—last year, volunteers had to be turned away—so the decision was made this year to take on two projects in one day.
“People are struggling and trying to figure out what to do and how to go on,” said the Rev. Dr. Ron Beauchamp, director of Elmhurst College’s Niebuhr Center for Faith and Action and founder of Partners for Peace. “My hope is that we can help to diminish the negativity and help to support the positive by doing what we do best. Elmhurst College is privileged to have, in our students, so much enthusiasm and eagerness to serve.”
To donate to the effort, please call (630) 617-3492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Partners for Peace is pleased to accept donations of painting supplies (paint brushes, rollers, pans and painters tape) until Wednesday, September 26.
The Partners for Peace event also serves as the kickoff to Elmhurst College’s second year of participation in The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, a White House initiative that began last fall as a way to promote cooperation and community service among faiths.
Several religious and social-service groups are co-sponsors of the Partners for Peace projects, including the Black Student Union, the Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ, the Christian Valley Baptist Church, the Compassionate Care Network, Elgin United Church of Christ, Elmhurst College Service Learning, Gospel Choir, Greek Life, Hablamos, Islamic Foundation, Office of Leadership, Service and Civic Engagement, Student Nurses Association, Patterson Center for the Health Professions, Muslim Student Association, Spiritual Life Council, R.H.W. Charitable Foundation, Wellness Center and Office of the Chaplain.