Community Service

2015-2016 Social Issues


Hunger and Homelessness in Chicago                                 
November 21 – 22, 2015                                                                             
Every year during the week before Thanksgiving is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This year, HAB is offering a weekend trip to Chicago to address the social issue of hunger and homelessness in Humboldt Park, a low-income neighborhood in Chicago. NIU student volunteers will help organize and execute the annual Thanksgiving Celebration hosted by the Church. Prior to participating in this trip, all students will be trained and receive education about the community partner and the social issue of hunger on the local and global level.   


America: The Land of Opportunity? Exploring Socio-Economic Status 
December 13 – 18, 2015                                               
Students will travel to a historic town to get an inside look at what poverty looks like in the U.S. today. Throughout the semester, we will be looking at how income, race, and education affect one’s life chances. We will explore these factors in a town that is deeply rooted in segregation and economic inequality. During the trip, we will be working with a nonprofit organization that’s fighting to change the next generation by providing a place where youth can express themselves freely and accept one another, despite differences in color, sexual orientation, and level of income.

Growing Skills While Growing Gardens 
December 13 - 18, 2015
The organization we will work with began with members of the community responding to a local man with intellectual disabilities losing his garden. Since then, it has grown (no pun intended!) to an educational program for elementary children and a center for learning for people interested in gardening. Staying true to its roots (another pun!), the organization serves as a vocational training program for people with disabilities. Additionally, it donates thousands of pounds each year to local feeding programs for the poor and homeless. NIU student volunteers will work in the gardens and interact with the participants of the educational programs. Prior to participating in this trip, all students will be trained and receive education about the community partner and about sustainable living, agriculture, and people with disabilities.

Sustainable Living in a Developing Country
*This trip is only open to graduate students                
January 9 - 16, 2016                                                                          
This trip is being offered through a partnership with the Counseling, Adult and Higher Education department. The goal of this trip is to encourage counselors, counselors-in-training, and other mental health professionals to get out of the office and do hands on service. Through this trip, participants will learn about being an agent of social justice and gain a multicultural experience. During the trip, participants will help build a house and other projects that will allow the families in need to sustain themselves once participants leave. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to interact with children at a newly opened orphanage. 


Female Youth Empowerment Through Girl Talk
March 12 -19, 2016                                                     
Adolescence is a difficult time in a person’s life. Girl Talk is an organization that partners high school girls with middle school girls to help guide the young girls through all the challenges that comes with being a middle schooler. NIU student volunteers will serve as a second mentor to the middle school girls and as mentors to the high school girls. Additionally, volunteers will provide service to the Girl Talk offices and learn about working at a non-profit organization. Prior to participating in this trip, all students will be trained and receive education about the community partner and about the challenges young girls face in today’s society.

Helping Families in Search of a Better Life
March 12 - 19, 2016 
*Students attending this trip MUST be US citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients*
Each year, many people risk their lives at a chance for a new life in the United States. Often these people come from crime-ridden countries and extreme poverty. NIU student volunteers will work with Catholic Charities of RGV to ensure that these people are received with compassion and are treated with dignity. Catholic Charities offers various services such as homelessness prevention, a pregnancy center, counseling program, immigration aid, and food program. Other students who have participated in a trip with Catholic Charities of RGV have stated it was a life-changing experience and provided them with a new perspective. This trip is especially relevant given the current political climate surrounding Americans’ beliefs about immigrants and immigration policies. Prior to participating in this trip, all students will be trained and receive education about the community partner and about facts and myths surrounding immigration in the United States.

Development for Under-Privileged Youth  
March 12 - 19, 2016
Have you ever wanted to help enrich the lives of under-privileged youth? Every day the Boys and Girls Club of America reaches out to 4 million kids to provide safety, empowerment, and resources. While volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of America you will be a mentor to young people by helping them with: Homework, having programs, activities and just being a friend/ open ear. Our goal is to challenge our beliefs around under-privileged and ask-risk youth. 


Rural Eduacation in a Developing Country                       
May 14 – 21, 2016
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. NIU volunteers who participate in this eye-opening trip will have an opportunity to support the elementary school and its children in a nearby Nicaragua Compact rural community. The service provided by NIU volunteers, which is integral to the Nicaraguan Compact, will build upon previous service work of other expeditions. Volunteers will assist teachers in classrooms, and engage the students with ESL, art, and music projects, as well as participating in break and after school activities. Panorama Service Expeditions is a non-profit organization focused on developing grassroots sustainable social and economic development projects in the developing world, specializing in projects in Nicaragua.