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Three Faiths Work Together as Innkeepers for Homeless

On Wednesday evenings in the Sport Science building, Belmont University students and Nashville area volunteers created a modern day story of the Good Samaritan. In the Biblical parable, a man was beaten and robbed and his needs overlooked until a Samaritan bandaged him and took him to an inn.

“In this case we put him in a Kia or a Chevy and took him to a gymnasium,” said Belmont Vice President of Spiritual Development Todd Lake. “We found people in other religious communities who were willing to set the alarm clock early or miss time with family and friends to be here and help people who needed help.”

Room in the Inn is an organization that coordinates shelters for homeless people and offers them emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help people rebuild their lives. Belmont began hosting guests with Room in the Inn in 2011, becoming one of the only universities in the country to shelter homeless guests in on-campus facilities.

Two nights a week–Wednesdays and Fridays–from November to March Belmont students cook dinner for the homeless and fellowship with them before they turn in for the night on cots. Although they had the eagerness and willingness to serve, students often did not have transportation to get the homeless to campus this year, so students turned to members of other faiths in Nashville for help.  The Islamic Center of Nashville and Congregation Sherith Israel sent volunteer drivers and chefs to work alongside students at a Christian university to aid the homeless.

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Belmont staff and students ate lunch with volunteers from the Islamic Center of Nashville and Congregation Sherith Israel on April 10 to celebrate their partnership to serve the homeless.

During a recent informal celebration of the partnership’s success, Belmont Director of Outreach Micah Weedman said, “One thing all of our religious traditions share is a common commitment to hospitality, particularly to those on the margins of our society and those considered outsiders. One of the fundamental elements of Christian life is to welcome strangers so that they might be our friends. At a University where we strive to address issues like global poverty and homelessness, it’s important that we learn also to become friends and share meals with those we wish to serve, and with those we’re learning to serve with.”

“Thank you on behalf of Belmont students. People are always telling me how much this experience changed them,” said sophomore Jeanette Morelan. “Through Room in the Inn, we came to learn someone else’s perspective through dialogue. It’s been incredible to see how much students from the Belmont community wanted to give, and it pouring back into our loves. Thank you for facilitating that experience.” (more…)

Students Ride Across America ‘With A Reason’

riding with a reason 4While many college students spend the summer working, performing internships or continuing coursework, three Belmont students will cycle across the country to raise funds for orphans in Honduras.

“The idea of a 4,000-mile cross country bike ride was enticing but left us wanting more,” said JD Hartwig, of St. Louis, Mo. “Being on a bike four to six hours a day for seven weeks is a crazy ridiculous opportunity to bless other people.”

Hartwig, rising senior Brennon Mobley and rising junior James Richfield discovered they shared a common compassion for orphans and connected with 147 Million Orphans, a Middle Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that raises awareness for orphans and provides them with food, water and medication. They created Riding with a Reason to use the summer excursion to raise $50,000, enough to finance a school building in Mount Olivos, Honduras and fill it with basic supplies, desks, chairs, books and uniforms as well as secure teachers’ salaries. Together the students are underwriting the trip so that all of the money raised through their bike ride across the country supports the project.

On Monday, they left for Hondorus to visit the children they will impact, and on May 15, they will begin their seven-week journey from Oceanside, Oregon to Washington, D. C. (more…)

Belmont Continues ‘Read with Me’ Tradition with Family Literacy Day

FamilyLiteracyDay-034-LSome 145 Belmont students read to Nashville children during the 14th Annual Family Literacy Day on April 12 at Rose Park. The event was designed to allow the Belmont community to partner with Nashvillians to encourage reading and literacy among elementary-age children and their families.

“It is a great privilege for Belmont to celebrate the great work that goes on all year long by joining with Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Nashville Public Library, Metro Parks, Book’em, PENCIL Foundation and Homework Hotline to provide Family Literacy Day to the community,” said Belmont Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart. “We are grateful for the opportunities the community provides our students and view Family Literacy Day as a small but hopefully significant way to say ‘thank you.’”

During the free celebration on reading, children enjoyed interactive story times, crafts, face painting, games and refreshments. In reading circles, hosted by Belmont student organizations such as the foreign language majors, the children listened to students read aloud and earned stickers to trade in for prizes and books donated by Book’em.

In the weeks prior to the event, first through fourth-grade studenFamilyLiteracyDay-017-Lts were invited to submit 12 to 16-line poems about their favorite literature. From 118 entries, the Belmont English Club selected five finalists, and the top five poets worked with local professional songwriters Seth Alley, Sherrié Austin, Maddie Larkin, Bill McDermott and Will Rambeaux to set their poems to music. More than 5,000 votes were cast online in the poetry contest, and the winner was “The Girl Who Thinks She Can” by Arieanna Rushing, a fourth-grade student at Sylvan Park Elementary. Click here to listen to the winning song and the other finalists.

University, Middle School Students Create Fifth ‘Edgehill’s Best’

Rose Park Journalism Club-107-XLThe partnership between Belmont University and Rose Park Middle Magnet School culminated Friday with seventh and eighth grade students from the middle school’s journalism club seeking advice from University students, receiving instruction from Belmont instructors and using the Media Studies journalism lab to write articles.

For the fifth consecutive year, Belmont journalism students worked with the middle school’s newspaper staff to produce Edgehill’s Best. The students received weekly tutorials from four Belmont Vision students and newspaper adviser and journalism instructor Dorren Robinson throughout the spring semester, learning how to develop story ideas, interview sources and write leads. Heather Thompson, a senior from Chattanooga, Tenn., created the lesson plans to teach the principles of journalism to the Rose Park students.

While on campus Friday, the students interviewed Belmont Director of Development and Major Gifts Harry Chapman, retired Tennessean Editorial Page Editor Dwight Lewis, Belmont Communications Specialist Juanita Cousins and Tennessean reporter Brian Wilson and wrote articles on their panel discussion. The students also toured the University’s campus and ate lunch alongside Belmont students in the cafeteria.

Rose Park Journalism Club-109-XLNicole Vincent, a seventh-grade geography teacher and the newspaper’s adviser, said she hopes the visit to Belmont gave her journalism students “valuable career information” through their exposure to the college campus and Nashville journalists.

“This is their reward – to get the newspapers and see their names in print and to learn about life on campus,” Robinson said. “The point of the newspaper is not just for Rose Park. The point of it is to get information out to the whole community, and for them to  be proud of their students.”

Instructor of Journalism Hyangsook Lee designed and laid out the newspaper, and the University printed 5,000 copies for distribution in the Edgehill community. In addition, it is given to Metro Council members and left in bins at local churches, restaurants, community centers and gas stations throughout the summer. This spring’s edition covers the new 12 South police precinct, Rose Park Middle School renovations, information on E.S. Rose Park, student fundraisers and the University’s Bridges to Belmont program, among other topics.

Belmont Welcomes National Sports Columnist, Music City Girls Lead! for Celebratory Luncheon

NCAA Final Four Luncheon-156-LChristine Brennan grew up during a time when girls weren’t encouraged or allowed to play sports. Yet, her father taught her how to throw a baseball and gave her a mitt for her eighth birthday. Soon, the boys began picking her first to be on their teams, and she grew up to become a national sports columnist.

“I decided to be the role model I never had,” she said. Brennan has covered 16 Olympic Games, written a best-selling book and serves as a television and radio sports commentator.

During the luncheon on Tuesday in the Maddox Grand Atrium, she shared advice with 57 female high school students who completed the Music City Girls Lead! leadership academy as part of the activities leading up to the NCAA Women’s Final Four Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. this weekend. (more…)

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