Superheroes turned out in force for the Homeward Bound Walk/Run and CommUniversity Day. The two events united last year, with the walk/run to fight homelessness in the morning and CommUniversity Day projects in the afternoon.
The growing partnership provided great synergy by combining forces to help the homeless as well as provide community service in St. Joseph County.
“Both of us were having the same challenge – how do we get more people in the community and more colleges to participate?” says Duane Wilson, advanced skills program director at the Robinson Community Learning Center, chair of the Homeward Bound walk, who helps coordinate CommUniversity Day projects at the center.
“We partnered last year and said ‘let’s do it the same day.’ We’ve got a bunch of people in the same spot who want to make a difference in the community. That really boosted the energy level.
“We recruited honorary chairs from five local colleges and universities, boosting campus and community participation.”
The morning event addressed homelessness and affordable housing with a fund raising walk and run that raised $22k. Homeward Bound, a collaboration of the Robinson Center, the Center for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Ministries, Hannah’s House and Bridges Out of Poverty, works with the Indiana Association for Community and Economic Development to elevate housing opportunities
In the afternoon, 350 students, faculty, and community residents worked together on a variety of projects. Assignments included the designing of the Howard/Notre Dame Avenue creative crosswalk; preparing numerous Unity Gardens for planting; cleaning up and landscaping Howard Park, Coquillard Park and Rum Village; and painting murals at the Robinson Community Learning Center.
In addition, Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns led a community food drive. They engaged neighbors as well as Homeward Bound participants and CommUniversity Day volunteers to participate and items donated were given to the Northern Indiana Food Bank.
“The day was evidence of true collaboration that benefitted the whole community,” Wilson says. “The partnership between Note Dame Student Government, South Bend Parks and Recreation, the City of South Bend, the Unity Gardens and the local colleges and universities proved to be beneficial to the community.”
“Additionally, event sponsors Fifth Third Bank along with support from OSMC, Martin’s Super Market, Specialized Staffing, and Lake City Bank demonstrate the breath of impact that can happen with committed community partners.”