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Community Partnership Celebration 2007
posted April 17, 2007

Calvin College will host its sixth annual Community Partnership Celebration from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 23 at the Ladies Literary Club, an historic downtown property recently donated to the college.

The celebration, sponsored by the office of Community Relations, highlights the many area agencies, nonprofits and individuals who partner with Calvin faculty, staff and students in research, scholarship and service.

This year, the celebration is also the closing event of the college’s first Embrace Our Place Festival, a weeklong series of events sponsored by the office of Community Engagement that recognize the importance of “place” or a specific community to the study of the liberal arts.

The Ladies Literary club is a choice site for the celebration this year, says Calvin director of community relations Carol Rienstra, because it represents the college’s expanded presence downtown.

“For the past several years," she says, "we have hosted a spring gathering in a site in the community that represents a connection to the college -- Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Home Repair Services, and last year, at the RAPID central station. The Ladies Literary Club, because it is an extension of the Calvin campus, connects us even more strongly to the community."

Paul Haan, director of Get the Lead Out and Calvin social work professor Rick Chamiec-Case will receive awards for a partnership that involved Chamiec-Case’s class installing radon kits in inner city homes.

Shawn Keener of Homework House and Jerry Fondse, a Calvin English professor, will receive awards for a 10-year tutoring effort that places Fondse’s English 101 students in tutoring relationships at Hall Elementary, Southwest Campus and Burton Elementary schools.

Sarah Smith, director of the Southeast Community Association (SECA) and Calvin communication arts and sciences professor Daniel Garcia will receive recognition for a “Community Voices” documentary of residents of the SECA neighborhood produced by Garcia’s class.

Calvin biology professor David Warners and a representative of Ada Township will tell about the work Warners and his class undertook completing an inventory of the township’s natural areas. Calvin biology professor Randy Van Dragt and his students worked with Vergennes Township officials on a similar inventory of that area.

Constructed in 1887, the first clubhouse built for a women’s society and now honorably ensconced on the National Register of Historic Places, the club has a long tradition of hosting musical and dramatic events and celebrated speakers --Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and Ann Landers among them. The college formally accepted the facility February 14, 2007, with the intention of continuing that storied tradition.

This year’s celebration will feature an hors d’oeuvre buffet and an address by Mayor George Heartwell and will honor several partnerships between Calvin faculty and community partners (see box). Both the faculty and the community side of the collaboration will receive a framed photograph representing the work of the partnership.

The Community Partnership Celebration is a significant yearly celebration for Calvin says Rienstra.

“Not only do we recognize the collaborative work and study that has been done," she says, "but we have a chance at this celebration to network and dream about other possibilities. It’s a time for staff, faculty and students to acknowledge our need for, and appreciation of, the greater Grand Rapids community in which God has placed us. We celebrate the opportunities to work and learn together as agents of renewal in this place.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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