Spalding University’s new class of first-time first-year students spent part of last week’s Engage student orientation helping out a neighbor while also getting an introduction to Spalding’s mission.
The freshmen completed a community service project to benefit the clients of the Wellspring mental health organization, which offers housing and psychiatric rehabilitation services for those struggling with mental illness.
The students gathered in the lower level of the Morrison Hall dorm, which is just across South Third Street from Wellspring’s Bernie Block Wellness center, and the freshmen assembled hundreds of hygiene kits and bagged meals that Wellspring distributed to individuals who are facing homelessness and mental illness.
“The work these students are doing is going to positively affect the lives of hundreds,” said Kim Johnson, Director of Development and Communications at Wellspring. “We so appreciate them taking the time to serve those in our community who need our help most.”
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Spalding Director of Student Leadership and Service Learning Anna Foshee, who organized the service project, said the choice to work with Wellspring was a deliberate one because the organization is located adjacent to campus and because students may encounter those in need of services.
And Anita Hall, User Experience Librarian at Spalding, said that “being a good neighbor” is a core belief held by the university’s faculty and staff.
“We want to eliminate the stigma around those struggling with homelessness and mental illness,” Foshee said. “Instead of being fearful of them, we want students to feel compelled to do their part to help them in their time of need.”
Spalding freshmen conduct a service project every year as part of Engage. While the group of about 100 students packed the lunches and hygienes kits for Wellspring, another 30-40 did landscaping work around Morrison Hall, planting raised flower beds. Last year, Spalding’s freshmen stuffed back-to-school backpacks with school supplies that were distributed to young students through Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
“(At Spalding), you get to have the opportunity to actually make a change,” freshman accounting major Will Costello said. “It feels really good to get to do that. I think that young people are the key to making a change in the world. It’s a great atmosphere here. Being a leader is about getting involved and being active in the community.”