More than 30 Years of Engagement for Ohio's Public Good

2017 Charles J. Ping Student Service Legacy Award Winners Announced

Charles Ping

The Charles J. Ping Student Service Award was designed to recognize and honor undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning on their campus and within their community.  These students represent the next generation of civic leaders and problem solvers. The award is named in honor of Charles J. Ping, who served as President of Ohio University from 1975 – 1994.  An early supporter and Board Member of Ohio Campus Compact, Ping has been a tireless advocate for campus-community partnerships and increased opportunities for students to become active and engaged citizens.

This recognition is granted annually to undergraduates at Ohio Campus Compact member institutions.

Students nominated to be a 2017 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award winner compete with other nominees from across the state for two $250 Legacy Award mini grants, to be given to a nonprofit organization of the winner’s choice.  The Legacy Award mini grants are sponsored by the Seretta Saylor Award.

The 2017 Legacy Award Winners:

Kathleen English, Sociology | Peace, Justice & Human Rights Major,
Class of 2018 at John Carroll University

There has never been a time in Kathleen’s life where she wondered where her next meal was coming from. With the mindset that no one else should have to go hungry,  she became a co-chair for the Fatima Family Food Drive, a Thanksgiving food drive that provides 125 families with a week’s worth of food during the week of Thanksgiving and includes a holiday meal. For the past three years she has been a co-chair for the food drive, and she is most proud of the committee’s work this year: developing the food drive from a service project to a service and advocacy project. As a member of the Arrupe Scholars program, a cohort of students taking cohort-unique classes about service and social justice while advocating for a variety of social justice issues across campus, Kathleen was able to research this issue in an academic context which led to improvements and additions to the project that better met the needs of the community. They provided food to 25 additional families, solidified future partners, learned from those they were serving about their needs, and raised the standard for presentability and community inclusivity. The food drive team of four begins preparation in early September. Flyers are made to distribute to 4,200 homes in University Heights informing the community about food insecurity and asking for canned food or monetary donations. For about a week, an organized team of volunteers distributes flyers on every doorstep. In October, they send another group of volunteers to the community to collect donations, where they return the collected food to a house that the team has reserved for the semester. Next they organize cans and boxes by food/type and complete inventory. The team calculates how much food and fresh produce they need to order according to the number of families and family size they can serve. Once all of the food shipments are delivered the team works with volunteers for weeks to pack all of the food according to family. On an early morning in November, boxes with bows, fresh produce, turkeys, and bags are delivered to the families at the Fatima Family Center.
Cuyahoga County has the highest number of food insecure residents and holds the highest number of food insecure children (Greater Cleveland Food Bank). One in six Ohio households experiences hunger and the state is ranked 8th in the United States for percentage of food insecure households (United States Department of Agriculture). These statistics are students, coworkers, and friends in service. They might be the students Kathleen tutors at a local school in Cleveland, or the girls she works with in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention center. This connection is why she is so passionate to address the issue of food security in Cleveland. Although they didn’t solve hunger in Cleveland or for the 125 families we provided food for, they invested time in raising awareness in the community. By also reaching out to policy makers Kathleen’s team sought to advocate for long term change in policy that affects food insecurity.

Written by Kathleen English, edited by Brenna Limbrick

Lauren Instenes

Lauren Instenes, History Major, Class of 2017 at Wittenberg University

Lauren has always been concerned with the needs of the communities in which she has lived. As a sophomore in college she began working with Wittenberg University’s Community Service program which has allowed her to see and appreciate all of the behind the scenes work that goes into trying to make Springfield, Ohio into a healthier, safer and more cohesive community. Last summer Lauren had the opportunity to contribute to this effort when she started Facing Intolerance on Wittenberg University’s campus. For this project she gathered a group of  student writers and found community members to pair with them. The writers met with the community members and listened to their story. The student writers took what they learned and wrote a story, which was published along with the rest in a volume through the Facing Project and was made available to the public at a book launch. Also at the book launch, a play that Lauren composed from the stories was performed to bring the stories to light and allow them to be connected with on a new level. The Facing Project is a nonprofit that connects people through stories to strengthen communities, and Ohio Campus Compact partnered with the Facing Project to offer the project to our member campuses (such as Wittenberg University) in Ohio.

In creating The Facing Project on her campus Lauren was able to combine her love of storytelling,  drive to create a more accepting community, and passion for LGBT rights into a single project. The LGBT community of Springfield, Ohio is a community that thinks of themselves as unimportant because they have been told that repeatedly. However, as she has written and read the stories collected through this project, she has found that every single one of them had something incredibly important to say. Lauren learned about the deepness of love and loss from an 80 year old gay man, while a transgender seven year old taught her about acceptance. Her mother showed Lauren the difference between a house and a home, and a humbly profound lesbian made her realize how coming out can actually mean coming in to yourself. Lauren felt insanely lucky to learn from these people and also to be the person that is bringing these stories to the Springfield community. The best part of this project for Lauren was watching the storytellers listen to their stories be told. The participants found empowerment in the Facing Project and saw their stories in the context of helping others and shaping the greater Springfield community.

Lauren never expected that her passion for community service would culminate in a project that was so important to so many people and also give her a new purpose in life. She hopes to continue telling the stories of those who are unheard to attempt to make communities more accepting and loving places for all.

Written by Lauren Instenes, edited by Brenna Limbrick

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