Monday, December 16, 2013

Juniata College faith-based service program among those honored by White House

By John Wall

The Juniata College Office of Campus Ministry was recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service for the Huntingdon (Pa.) school’s year-long participation in the President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge during 2012-13. The campus challenge, which is a US Department of Education program, was focused around the 2012 inaugural year.

"I commend the students and staff who are promoting interfaith community service on college campuses across our country,” wrote President Barack Obama in a letter congratulating participants. "Thank you for your commitment to service, and I wish you all the best as you continue to make a lasting difference in the lives of others."

Juniata was recognized for its innovative Planting Seeds program, which centered on three service topics: food, hunger, and farming. One of the year's initial events featured a service day on local Amish and Mennonite farms near Belleville, Pa. A contingent of Juniata students, led by Lauren Seganos, an Americorps volunteer who worked as the interfaith service coordinator for the 2012-13 academic year, and Grace Fala, professor of communication, performed odd jobs on various farms, including fruit picking, yard work, and gathering firewood.

Throughout the course of the year, Seganos also organized a series of bread-baking events centered on baking bread recipes from various international traditions and cultures. The group made breads from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and also created pastries from the Pennsylvania Dutch culinary tradition.

After the baking, Seganos would lead a discussion. Finished bread would be donated to the soup kitchen at Huntingdon Presbyterian Church. "We talked to them about what we made and why we made it together and then we shared a meal with the people at the soup kitchen," said Seganos in a Campus Opinions interview last year.

The Planting Seeds program also organized film showing throughout the year and collaborated with Hillel, the Juniata student club for Jewish students, to plan the college's Freedom Seder.

Juniata was one of more than 250 colleges to participate in the campus challenge.

--John Wall of the Juniata College communication staff contributed this release.

Source: 12/16/2013 Newsline

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