The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907
April 9, 2010
Volume 104, Issue 24
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Fund helps students reach out to classmates in need

Alissa Goudswaard

Features Co-Editor

If you will be graduating from Calvin next month (in just 43 days), chances are you recently received a letter from Calvin, along with a donation envelope for the Calvin Annual Fund. Community Care Fund donations will be the Class of 2010’s Senior Gift.

The first Senior Gift committee was formed in 1993 as an occasion for the graduating class to give back to their new alma mater. Past Senior Gifts have included things like handicap doors throughout campus, the handicap accessible ramp in the library lobby, and the campus safety security phones. This year’s Senior Gift donations will be marked for the Community Care Fund.

The Community Care Fund is about students helping students. It is an emergency fund intended to aid students faced with unexpected circumstances that can feel overwhelming, for example, paying for a student’s plane ticket when a family member dies, or covering expenses for families visiting students in emergency circumstances. As Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson puts it, “The fund can be used to pay for anything from oral surgery to the aftermath of an apartment fire.” Faculty and staff members usually request funds on the students’ behalf, and all payments are confidential.

The story behind the fund is an interesting one. In 1990, a visually impaired Calvin student, Marcia Beare (Visser), was crossing the East Beltline when a car ran a red light and struck her seeing-eye dog, Sebastian. When Beare didn’t have the funds to cover Sebastian’s medical care, Dale Cooper, then Calvin’s chaplain, sent a letter to all of Calvin’s academic and housing departments, requesting a community response to help pay for Sebastian’s medical needs.

The response was overwhelming — members of the Calvin community stepped up to raise $2,500. Ultimately, Sebastian’s medical bills totaled only around $800, and Beare gave the rest of the money back to the community. This became the Community Care Fund, which has remained an open fund that can be added to and used at any time. In 2004, the Nyela Turkaki memorial fund was established in memory of a Calvin student from Nigeria who passed away suddenly in June 2004 from a brain hemorrhage. The Nyela Turkaki memorial fund is a branch of the Community Care Fund intended specifically for international students.

The Community Care Fund is now a part of the Calvin Annual Fund, but it has been managed by the student life department since it was formed. About five years ago, the development department learned that students found that donating to Calvin (as part of senior gift projects) to construct bike racks or benches was not a meaningful endeavor for them.

The Community Care Fund became a part of the Calvin Annual Fund in 2005, and contributions to the Community Care Fund became the Class of 2005’s Senior Gift. Originally, only departing seniors were asked to contribute to the fund, but this has recently expanded to accept funds from the entire student body.

The development department has worked to raise support through mailings, e-mails and calls, and the department has seen numerous students give to the fund after hearing stories of its effect on the lives of Calvin students. This year, the Calvin Student Senate has also adopted the Community Care fund as a major initiative, working to build students support and awareness.

At the heart of the Community Care Fund is a simple concept — care and concern for one’s neighbor. The fund is really about giving to each other, a way for students to help their peers and invest in their college experience and community.

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