Concordia students have always felt the drive to help the community surrounding campus.
From the beginning of their time on campus and throughout their four years of college, many Cobbers participate in different forms of community service. The drive that many students feel to serve stems from the message that Concordia itself puts forth. The message to serve can be seen in the college’s mission statement, “to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed young men and women,” and in the BREW initiative which tells students to be responsibly engaged in the world. Students’ dedication to these messages can be seen in their work to organize many programs and charitable events.
In the 1970s, a student organization called Sources for Service (S.O.S) was formed. Its mission statement in the 1990s was “to facilitate service-learning experiences for Concordia students in the broader community that will lead to personal growth, learning, and a lifelong commitment to service.” In the 1990s, S.O.S. grew to include 16 programs that students could volunteer in. These programs included things such as English as a Second Language tutoring at elementary schools for children of newly emigrated families, caregiving programs such as Adopt-a-Grandparent, and emergency assistance programs at the YWCA for survivors of domestic abuse.
During its time as S.O.S., the program was nominated for numerous awards. One of the awards was the Environmental Award from the River Keepers group, a river advocacy group based in Fargo, for the work that S.O.S did in helping to clean the Red River. Another award that the group was nominated for was the Governor’s Youth Service Recognition Award in 1991 for the many different service programs they were involved with in the community. The YWCA also formally recognized the S.O.S. group as friends of the organization for the thousands of hours they had given to helping those in need. Sources for Service transformed into the Campus Service Commission in 2003. The change in the name did not lead to a change in purpose for the group. It still strove to facilitate service-learning experiences for students and to aid the wider community by facilitating student volunteerism.
While Sources for Service was involved in many different programs, there were other opportunities for students to volunteer and donate their time. One of the most popular is Hands for Change. Hands for Change is a program that all first-year and new transfer students participate in during Fall Orientation. Students volunteer in a wide variety of programs across the Fargo-Moorhead community. Some programs include helping to clean up historical sites, helping the local police departments spread the word on new ordinances, and even helping local businesses, such as the Rourke Art Museum, staff large events that take place during the event. Hands for Change allows students to experience a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and helps students understand Concordia’s mission to get students involved in the community.
Another popular program for students to volunteer with is Concordia’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Begun in the 1990-91 academic year, the group quickly began planning service trips. In its first year, the group was involved in three major projects in two different states that resulted in eight new Habitat houses and supported the Lake Agassiz’ building. More than 41 students were involved in the projects just that first year. Concordia’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity quickly grew to become of one of the largest college chapters. In 1997, less than 10 years after the chapter was first organized, more than 130 students were participating in Habitat builds during spring break. In 1997, those 130 students were working at six building sites in five different states. In the early 2000s, the Habitat for Humanity program at Concordia expanded to include international trips to countries such as Nicaragua to help build houses for communities in need. The program is active on campus to this day and now includes many different on-campus and off-campus opportunities to volunteer, including a wide variety of nationwide and international spring break trips.
Contributed by Allison Cassell, archives associate, Concordia College Archives