Looking Back on a Great Year

Posted: May 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

In August, I remember returning to campus with a slight apprehension.  In a matter of months, I had learned about the Interfaith Youth Core’s (IFYC) campus interfaith movement, applied for an internship position, and became an interfaith leader.  After this year, what would the University of Indianapolis’ (UIndy) interfaith involvement look like?  Would I be able to fulfill IFYC’s objectives?

At UIndy, I was helped by my friends Faith Cougill, Jenna Nawrocki, and Sam Thomas that co-founded a student group called the Interfaith Forum during the previous year.  Later in the year, we were also helped by an Americorps program that invited students to participate in interfaith service through the Interfaith Service Corps (IFSC).  These students were Amanda Carter, Saisha Rairdon, and Mitchell Green.  They also were joined by IFSC students at the Indianapolis-area campuses of Butler, IUPUI, Marian, and Franklin College.  Additionally, UIndy’s chaplains, L. Lang Brownlee and Jeremiah Gibbs, and many students that participated in an interfaith steering committee were immensely helpful.

Our first big event was the “What IF?” Speak-In Event to handle issues of hunger and homelessness.  The night consisted of  making 25 no-sew blankets for the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) (as seen below), hosting four speakers from IHN, and engaging in interfaith dialogue on the shared call to service.  Sixty students, faculty, and community members attended to show that the interfaith community of Indianapolis will not stand silent on these important social issues.

We then engaged in service projects throughout the year to address hunger and homelessness.  One of the most successful events was during our first semester at Gleaners Food Bank where we packed 700 food bags for Indianapolis’ needy.  Members of various faith traditions gathered together to unite in harmony rather than violence and make a impact on the community.

In addition, the IFSC leaders started a weekly interfaith service project to Fletcher Place Community Center in coordination with Kiwanis’ Circle K.  On every Monday of second semester, students from various faith backgrounds fed meals to the homeless, packed food for their food pantry, and sorted clothes for their thrift store.

Furthermore, the Interfaith Forum and United Nations Student Association partnered to host a Kids Against Hunger packing event at UIndy.  These volunteers packed over 2,500 meals for starving kids around the world.  For more information, look at the video below.

In order to celebrate the accomplishments of year, we hosted the Better Together Bash on April 14, 2011.  On this date, thirty-two students, faculty, and community members enjoyed a vegetarian meal from Earlham’s chapter of Food Not Bombs and listened to Dr. John Clark of Provocate and Lubabah Abdullah, the new executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.  Still, UIndy’s interfaith movement was only just starting.

On April 16, the Indianapolis interfaith community helped in two projects on “The Great Day of Service.”  First, college students and community members alike gathered at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds for the first annual Kids Against Hunger Pack-a-Thon.  These volunteers packed over 250,000 meals for kids around the world.  Can you imagine the impact that this multitude of meals might have?

Second, the University of Indianapolis hosted the Thirst Project Benefit Concert later that day.  Through the musical talents of Jon McLaughlin and Joel Levi, we raised $4,080 for the Thirst Project to build clean water wells in other countries.  For more information on the Thirst Project, look below.

Thus, we have had an immensely successful year at UIndy for interfaith service.  We gave the homeless warmth through no-sew blankets.  We packed tons of meals for Indianapolis’ and the world’s hungry.  We gave water to the thirsty in other parts of the world.  This year, the UIndy interfaith movement gave basic essentials to a few, but still so many do not have the means to live.  Our work is not yet done.

While the service we have accomplished is great, the grander vision that we wish to complete is building interfaith cooperation as a social norm in Indianapolis, the United States, and the world.  At UIndy, we have made great strides to allow people of all religious and philosophical backgrounds to contribute to their community, but we have more yet to do.  We wish to reach out to more students, more faculty, and more community members to create an accepting interfaith community.  Until that goal has been realized, the forces of religious prejudice will continue to cause violence and discrimination.  As a member of any faith, we cannot stand silent when our brothers and sisters are facing this injustice.

This last video shows our accomplishments this year that we will keep expanding into the future.  Thanks for all of your contributions, and the UIndy interfaith community hopes that you will continue to support us.

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