The Fargo Police Department stopped by the college in December to offer gratitude to two Concordia groups for their community partnership.
Officers from the police department’s Youth Programing and Outreach brought framed “Thank You” posters that featured pictures of some of its programs. The posters were presented to the college for mattress donations and offering swimming lessons to underserved children. Rob Smith from Facilities Management and Anneliesse Bruns, director of the swimming program, accepted the gifts.
Bruns and her team of swimming instructors have offered swimming lessons for New American children through the Fargo Police Department program for the past few years. Officer Vince Kempf, the cultural liaison officer who delivered the recognition posters, says the program is important because New American youth are less likely to know how to swim than others in the general population. Concordia’s program provides the lessons at a reduced rate with the rest of the fees paid for by community gifts while the police department program provides transportation to the lessons. Bruns says they are thrilled to get the chance to teach water safety and skills to these students.
“It has been a wonderful experience for Concordia Swimming Lessons to partner with the Fargo Police Department to provide these lessons,” Bruns says. “Water safety education and learning/practicing water skills is so important for drowning prevention. We are grateful for the ability to reach individuals who normally don’t have access or opportunities to these lessons. Seeing the big smiles on their faces when they float for the first time or even go off the diving board is also a huge reward!“
Concordia also partnered with the youth program through a mattress giveaway.
Concordia replaces its residence hall mattresses after eight to 10 years. Those still in good condition are donated to the community. This summer the police department’s Community Engagement Team picked up more than 100 mattresses to youth and families.
“Police officers often find that displaced families often have children sleeping on the floor,” Kempf says. “The health and education of youth can be harmed or disrupted by not getting adequate restful sleep. Fargo Police distributed these mattresses directly to families or to organizations that had clients in need of mattresses.”
The connection was important because the police department had the resources to transport the mattresses and knew of the people who could use the mattresses.
“We are always looking to recycle or reuse items being discarded across campus,” says Rob Smith, assistant director of Facilities Operations. “Donating used mattresses not only keeps them from being put in the landfill, but it also allows us to contribute to our community by helping fill a need that I do not think many of us knew was out there.”
The college is dedicated to the Fargo-Moorhead community and also sustainability. The mattress program giveaway was a combination of these two important facets of Concordia.
Sustainability coordinator Jackie Maahs says that because mattresses are difficult to recycle many end up in the landfill, which takes up a lot of space and generates more methane, a greenhouse gas that is produced when items decompose.
“Being able to partner with the Fargo PD to reuse these mattresses was an awesome opportunity,” Maahs says. “We are glad that we can extend the life of these mattresses and provide a comfy place to lie down to those who need it. It is a great example of why community partnerships are vital to building a more sustainable future.”
The Fargo Police Department hopes to continue these partnerships in the future.