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August 25, 2004

Calvin StreetFest Nears

The 12th annual StreetFest at Calvin College will put some 900 first-year students into the streets of Grand Rapids for four-hour service-learning projects as part of their orientation program at the college.

StreetFest will take place September 2, 3 and 4. Each day will begin with worship in the Calvin chapel from 9:30-10 am. From 11:30 am to 3 pm the students will work at various sites around the city.

The theme for StreetFest 2004 is "celebrating neighborhoods."

Calvin senior Alaina Cronkright of Zeeland is coordinating this year's effort.

She says the focus on neighborhoods will provide important lessons for Calvin first-year students.

"At Calvin it's sometimes easy to forget about the world beyond the campus," she says. "But neighborhoods are important for us to participate in and partner with as members of our local community. Also a neighborhood is a great example of many different parts working together - schools, churches, government institutions, public transportation, businesses, families and so much more. Grand Rapids has a lot to offer the students at Calvin College through diverse neighborhoods and opportunities."

Through StreetFest, Calvin hopes to introduce first-year students to various Grand Rapids neighborhoods with the hope that students will make a connection that can last throughout their time at Calvin.

"We want students," says Cronkright, "to become familiar with and involved in the city."

StreetFest is coordinated by the Service-Learning Center at Calvin and supported with funds from the Calvin Alumni Association and Huntington Bank.

Service-Learning Center Director Jeff Bouman says the project serves a dual purpose: it is an introduction to service as an important element of a Calvin education, and an opportunity for new students to be introduced to some of the citizens and organizations in the city of Grand Rapids.

Huntington employees agree.

"I participate in Streetfest to contribute to the well being of the larger community," says Carol Petter, a Huntington VP. "When Grand Rapids as a whole thrives, so do businesses like Huntington Bank and schools like Calvin College."

Huntington colleague Jeff Haverdink, a Calvin graduate who is a manager in Byron Center says simply: "I find this to be a terrific opportunity to serve both the Grand Rapids community and new students at Calvin. My education and experiences while a student at Calvin College helped me to discover that we are all called to serve those around us.

Students are given a small taste of what service-learning can be like during their StreetFest experience.

Among the projects for 2004: working with ICCF building sheds, sorting clothes at In the Image, accompanying residents from the Heartland Health Care to the John Ball Park Zoo and planting a rain garden and doing stream clean-up work with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. All told about 70 sites will be visited over a three-day period.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-526-6475 (v)
616-526-7069 (f)