Articles From the November 1994 Unification News


Social Service Projects of World CARP-Chicago

by Robert Kittel-Chicago, IL

CARP has sponsored a variety of presentations dealing with such current topics as AIDS, family breakdown, racism, and religious harmony. But more important than the exchange of ideas is the social service projects CARP has initiated here in the windy city.

We first went to the Student Development Services to obtain a list of community organizations that had solicited the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for student volunteers. These organizations wanted to offer students a chance to participate in local social service programs. The university is energetically promoting student involvement in such programs and, at the end of the academic year, will be giving certificates to students who volunteer their time and talent in social service.

The advantages of working through the university to find local service projects are tremendous. First, CARP is seen from the perspective of university administrators as a socially conscious and publicly active student organization. On this foundation good relationship naturally develops with the university. We are no longer a cult living outside society, but involved in neighborhood development, helping to solve real social problems. Then during introductory CARP lectures we insert slides showing our participation in community service programs; this is the first line of our public relations defense.

Last week, for example, we went to the student newspaper, The Chicago Flame, to protest a negative article labeling CARP members, "Moonies," and referring to us as a cult. We told the editors about our involvement with the Franciscan Outreach Center and it helped very much in creating a positive image; CARP was seen as a viable, socially active student organization. The editors said they would print an apology and this week ran Bruce Sutchar's letter explaining our grievances. (Bruce is the Campus Minister for UIC.)

The majority of social service programs are organized by religious groups, especially Christians. So in the future, these relations can also be cultivated, possibly for the church side.

When new students come to the center we explain that being part of CARP will bring a great benefit for their future. After graduating, the next concern of students is for employment. Most job interviews are secured through resume applications. So when a student writes not only his or her academic qualifications, but also writes about their involvement with social service projects, it looks real good on paper! Not only are they more likely to get an interview, but when they talk of personal experiences at different projects it creates a positive image in the minds of their future employers.

More and more business are not just looking for smart employees, but good employees. A person who has been working in community development projects on a volunteer basis would certainly be evaluated as a good person. Why? Because this person has demonstrated a care for others, willing to make personal sacrifices that help those less fortunate.

Another advantage to social service projects is the bonding that takes place between spiritual parent and child. Standing behind a table serving soup to the homeless builds a much deeper relationship than just sitting through a lecture. Lectures are essential, but deep friendships makes it easier to bring people to lectures and workshops.

Working with existing service projects is the best; it does not cost anything to set up, we don't need to spend time in organizing and running the program, and we don't have to have specialized expertise. All we have to do is show up and help. We have found that students really like this and come back again and again. Our guests can see that we not only talk about high ideals, we are firmly grounded in the real world too. (If we only talk about the international service projects, it might send wrong signals, causing someone to think, "If I join this group, I can be a world traveler.")

Various projects that we have participated in include:

1. Chicago Christian Industrial League: This was a food service project. We were mainly preparing food and because it was not involved with actually serving people we stopped going to this program. However, our relationship with them lasted. They just called us asking if they could use the CARP center as a collection depot for Thanksgiving food donations.

2. Habitat for Humanity: We discontinued working here because it was a Saturday project and conflicted with weekend workshops. This program involved demolition and/or restoration of homes, preparing them for low-income housing.

3. Franciscan Outreach Center: This program operates 7 days a week. The Franciscans have a big kitchen and dining area in their church compound. They receive donations of food and prepare the meals on the premises, but we don't have to get involved with food preparations. All we do is help them service dinner to the homeless once a week, on Tuesdays from 4:30-7:00 pm.

4. City Lands: This is an after school program for inner-city children whose parent or guardians work full-time jobs. Instead of becoming latch-key kids, children remain at school and volunteers come to school to play games with children or help them with homework. This has been a very rewarding experience.

In conclusion, service projects are an excellent way to build good relationships; between guests and CARP members as well as building self esteem for everyone (the relationship of mind-body unity). However, if we tried to setup, organize and operate the service projects all by ourselves, it would consume our time, personnel and financial resources. Working with existing programs lets us reap the benefits of community service, while still allowing us time to do other CARP activities.


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