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Behrend talks advocacy at Dinner for Six

Photo By: Alex Bell/The Behrend Beacon

11-27-2018

Alex Bell, News Editor

This year’s celebration of Dinner for Six, a Thanksgiving like event put on by Behrend drew a sizable amount of students, faculty, and community members. The event which has been held annually for the past 5 year raises food for surrounding charities. This year the event went above and beyond, surpassing every previous record, accumulating over 2,000 pounds of canned and non-perishable goods for The Second Harvest Food Bank.

Dinner for Six has been growing continually each year surpassing each past year in donations. Organizations on campus have also been showing more interest in the event as the event becomes a staple on Behrends campus. The sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha brought in 38 bags of food themselves through the Can Castle event, the most out of any organization on campus.

The event not only brought tangible donations but also provided a platform for those doing work in the community to bring relevant information to the attention of students and other community members. This year, Mike Jaruszewicz, a representative from United Way, came to speak during the dinner. United Way is a group of non-profits which function together, giving them more resources than individual charities. Jaruszewicz discussed his most recent project called United Way Community Schools, they are not actually schools in and of themselves, but rather programs placed within the school. Several have been established in the Erie County area already, and excitement has been expressed by United Way for the plans to expand the program. These new installments will be able to provide students with all kinds of services such as programs that handle mental health and physical health along with other programs that will deal with physical needs. The programs can also provide needed items like winter jackets, food, or other basic necessities.

“The needs of those students and those communities are different,” said Jaruszewicz. He explained that no two “community schools” would be identical because they are designed to provide incredibly specific help based on communities as a whole as well as individual members within them. “Everyone has a role to play. The end result is a more sufficient community,” said Jaruszewicz.

According to Jaruszewicz, there are more than 7,500 of these “community schools” across the country. While each program is different, several have been able to make a powerful impact in different areas of the community. Many of the programs create a bridge between members of the area and non-profits, but these “community schools” also connect community members to students in a way unseen previously. Jaruszewicz stated that Penn State Behrend had a heavy hand in the creation and operation of the mentoring program introduced through Behrends C.O.R.E. and the “community school” in Iroquois county. Which provides the students of each school a bond that they would not have had without the program.