St. Ambrose students take the Urban Plunge

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University’s new students volunteered at various sites throughout the Quad-City area to learn about the people, organizations and community in which they now live and discover the impact they can have in the world.

Anne Marie Amacher
St. Ambrose University freshman Charles Hart of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, stacks glass dishes at Humility Homes and Services in Davenport in preparation for the organization’s fundraiser next month. Students from St. Ambrose participated in the annual Urban Plunge Aug. 20 throughout the Quad-City area.

Kaitlin Bormann, the university’s director of service and justice ministry, said the rain made for some changes to the schedule for the annual Urban Plunge. More than an inch of rain fell the morning of Aug. 20, which made outdoor work not possible.

But that didn’t stop the work. Bormann had alternative sites and activities ready — just in case. This year, 520 freshmen, plus instructors and peer assistants for a total of 590 people, walked or took a bus to the 27 work sites to participate.

“Urban Plunge is a neat way to introduce first-year students to the culture of the university and our mission to serve and enrich others,” said Bormann. Representatives of the work sites “hope the students will get excited and continue volunteering on their own,” she added. “In fact, many students choose to serve throughout their education.”

The program began 10 years ago with three sites and 44 students who chose to participate. Now, all first-year students are involved. Vol­un­teerism is encouraged through a variety of projects throughout the academic year. In the 2017-18 academic year, SAU students, faculty and staff gave 180,271 hours of service to people, organizations and communities here, and across the world. That was an increase of 23,551 hours based on statistics compiled the prior year, Bormann said. “Service is at the corner of St. Ambrose’s mission,” Bormann said, “so it’s important that we have the students participate early in their time as Ambrosians.”

Three groups worked at senior sites: the Kahl Home, Manor Care and Center for Active Seniors Inc. (CASI). Students got to know seniors and appreciate the generational differences and similarities.

At Humility Homes and Services in Davenport, the plan was to have students help with landscaping, wash exterior windows, trim bushes and mow, said Volunteer Coordinator Patti Trapp. Rain put a damper on those plans. Instead, she had students help inside the warehouse that supports the organization’s transitional housing program.

Humility Homes and Services is preparing for its annual Fresh Start Benefit Sale scheduled for Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its headquarters at 3805 Mississippi Ave.

Inside the warehouse the students helped set up for the big sale. They organized and moved items to their correct locations, pulled furniture out of storage, dusted, marked items and more.

Logen Howell of Pekin, Ill., and Charles Hart of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sorted items to be put in the proper spots. “This is cool that it is required to help organizations and to serve others,” Hart said.

Junior Evelyn Nunez of Tama, Iowa, is a peer assistant who remembered doing the Urban Plunge as a freshman and enjoyed it. This year, she helped with sorting, which included placing baby strollers all together. It is good for students to get introduced early to the community and to have the opportunity to get in some volunteer experience, she said.

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