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Shepherd officials to visit White House

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley, Tom Segar, vice president of student affairs, and Holly Frye, director of community service and service learning, will visit the White House on Wednesday, Aug. 3 as part of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.

The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge is an initiative inviting institutions of higher education to commit to a year of interfaith and community service programming on their campuses. The program is designed to gather diverse campus groups to work together to implement a specific yearlong service project in their communities.

Shepherd will be working with United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and the Burke Street Promise Neighborhood Initiative, a grass roots group of committed and concerned citizens, to create a promise neighborhood in a designated 40 square block area of Martinsburg that has been identified as low-income.

During the yearlong project, Shepherd students will serve as volunteers for many programs and events undertaken by the Burke Street Promise Neighborhood, and will host a block party for residents, provide workshops on inexpensive, healthy food options, host after school activities, tutor at-risk youth, help families develop a budget, and assist with neighborhood beautification projects.

“Our goal for this initiative is to provide personal experiences for our students as they discuss and dialog about spirituality, faith, belief, and non-belief with the intention that when they leave our campus community, they will be prepared to embrace a pluralist society where our differences can be our strengths,” Frye said in a press release.

Shipley said that the challenge allows Shepherd to highlight one of its most effective student leadership development efforts, the role of community service projects that create in students a lifelong dedication to community involvement.

“The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge is a great opportunity to engage students in service to others, while introducing parallel investigations into how belief shapes action,” Shipley said.

According to Frye, Shepherd’s initiative will include administrating an Interfaith Youth Core student survey to measure four areas of campus life as it relates to students’ attitudes, knowledge, behaviors, and overall campus climate; creation of an Interfaith Council including students, staff, and faculty who will be charged to determine campus needs related to religious diversity; and creation of a speaker series to discuss further interfaith dialog.

“The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge has given us pause to reflect on this tendency to stray away from religious dialog and programming,” Frye said. “This challenge has presented our campus with an opportunity to give our students permission, both literally and figuratively, to explore how faith and spirituality intersect with community service.”