More than 100 Elmhurst College students, faculty and staff traveled to Chicago’s Northwest Side in October to work in a church, a school and food pantry in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood.
The effort was part of the Niebuhr Center’s Partners for Peace program, a hands-on social justice initiative that brings together members of the Elmhurst College community to serve their neighbors in the neglected neighborhoods of nearby Chicago.
The volunteers from Elmhurst made the short bus ride from campus to St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Chicago, where they assisted with free health screenings, helped organize and clean up a nearby food pantry and school, and distributed donated school supplies and winter clothing. The group from Elmhurst included College President S. Alan Ray.
This marked the sixth year Partners for Peace has done service work in Chicago neighborhoods that contend daily with violence, poverty and other challenges.
In addition to their good works, the group from Elmhurst provided entertainment. The College’s Jazz Band and Gospel Choir performed throughout the day at St. Peter’s. The volunteers began their day in Elmhurst with a breakfast and a talk by Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and a professor of religion at Columbia University. Dorrien spoke on the role of renowned theologian and Elmhurst graduate Reinhold Niebuhr in shaping the concept of social justice.
Several Elmhurst College groups are co-sponsors of the Partners for Peace project, including the Department of Athletics; the Compassionate Care Network; Chartwells; Elmhurst College student groups; the Elmhurst College Jazz Band; the Elmhurst College Gospel Choir; the Office of Leadership, Service and Engagement; the Office of the Chaplain; the Deicke Center for Nursing; the Service-Learning program; and the Wellness Center.