Student Service Spotlight

"Don't be afraid to believe in change..." Cindy Umana

CindyCindy Umaña is a sophomore at Missouri State University. She is a Political Science major and her minor is Philosophy. She is an outgoing young woman that has a good head on her shoulders and really knows how to use her passion in ways that benefit those around her and in her community. Although Cindy may appear to be the average college student, I found during an interview that she has an impressive track record of community involvement and service, along with a strong passion for what she believes in.

Previous to her college involvement, Cindy was in the FCCLA club at her high-school. She mentioned that one year, they had a ‘Toys for Tots’ fundraiser, and this is where Cindy realized what service really was to her. She found that service made a person more connected to the community and it made her more personable and open minded. Cindy’s on campus involvement includes being the president of the Pre-Law Fraternity Phi Alfa Delta. Within this fraternity, students are encouraged to take part in different service projects and to get involved in their community. Also, she is involved in Model UN and a program nicknamed “Uno” that focuses on cultural exploration and the uniting of minority groups, and ultimately acts as a support group for those who seek such types of support. Along with these service programs, Cindy is involved in Hand-in-Hand, which is a multicultural center with the mission to, “empower individuals, ethnic and minority families, disadvantaged, and at-risk populations to become healthier—enabling individuals to contribute actively and productively to their communities” (Hand-in-Hand Multicultural Center website). They offer resources such as tutoring, counseling, and certain health services to those who cannot otherwise provide themselves with these services. Her other community involvement projects include D.A.C.A., or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In essence, this program was implemented by president Obama in 2012 to provide alternative routes to citizenship for individuals who are denied employment or college acceptance due to their lack of citizenship. Clearly, Cindy does not get this involved with service programs with such a specific focus or goal just for the credit. Her definition of service and what she chooses to be passionate about is the fuel for her excessive involvement in relieving pressure for the involuntary immigrated.

 When asked what service meant to her, Cindy replied, “to aid others in order for them to reach their goals, and to help them help themselves.” Cindy was a participant in Leadershape, which is a week-long inner-reflection program that helps students realize what their vision for the community is and teaches them how to achieve their vision. After completing the week long camp, Cindy realized that her vision for the community was to eliminate the pressure put on those who immigrated to the United States involuntarily when they were children. This passion is what drives her involvement in D.A.C.A. and Hand-in-Hand. Being able to dedicate so much time and energy into programs such as these just shows how strong Cindy’s passion for helping others really is. In order to have this amount of drive, one would think there would be an explanation, and in Cindy’s case, the explanation can be found close to home.

With her family being from El Salvador, Cindy understands the pressure that can be put on an immigrant child. Cindy remembers a specific event that made her realize just how strong individuals would have to be to get past this applied pressure. Cindy recalls a day in 4th grade when she saw a group of protesters marching down the street. When she went to her class, she noticed that the other Hispanic children were not there. Then, she was asked by a white student why she was in class, to which she replied that she was just coming to class. The student asked her why she was not protesting with the other Hispanic students about immigrants not being able to go to school in America anymore. Cindy remembers going home that night and asking her mother to explain this to her. Her mother stated that being educated is the best thing to be, and that it was up to them as “activists” to change the perceptions of who people think others are and to empower as many people as she could. This stuck with Cindy throughout her life and can be viewed as the source of her passion behind her vision.

Near the conclusion of the interview, Cindy had a few inspiring things to say to the readers. She wants everyone to get involved and to encourage their friends to find ways to get involved in their communities. She said that servicing her community has really changed her for the better, and she knows now that she is a better person as a result of her involvement, and that she is more social and open minded than she every would have been. The main lesson Cindy wants people to take away when they look at her involvement and service is, “for them not to be afraid to believe in change. When you volunteer in your community, you get to know others better, and in turn, learn more about yourself.”

 

By Jerrica Shine - Kickapoo University

 

Well of Life Food Pantry

 

Food

Unfortunately, there are students suffering from food insecurity on the Missouri State University campus. Students having trouble finding ways to pay for their next meal, struggling with finding a place to sleep, or those who simply have not received financial assistance, all deserve to have a place they can go in order to find food.  Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity is not something with which only homeless individuals suffer. Food insecurity can be described plainly as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Some students have no option but to eat cheap and unhealthy foods because they cannot find a reliable source of healthy and affordable food.

The Well of Life Food Pantry, located at 418 South Kimbrough Ave., is a non-profit organization that provides food and other basic materials to those who are faced with food insecurity. When the student food assistance program ran by the Office of Community Involvement and Service joined with Well of Life three years ago at its current location, their ultimate goal was to offer aid to Missouri State students facing food insecurity, going hungry, not able to make ends meet, or facing a delay in financial aid or other assistance.

The Ozarks Food Harvest has partnered with Well of Life and is the supplier of the food within the pantry. The food supplied includes basic grocery items such as canned fruits and vegetables, various meats, soup and snack products, and an array of different microwaveable meals. There is also bread, eggs, milk, and the option of cold or hot cereal. Health conscious options are also available, including gluten free alternatives. Basic hygiene items are offered at the food pantry as well; among these being soap (hair, body, laundry, and dish), razors, diapers, oral care products, feminine care products, and toilet paper. The quantity of supplies available for a customer to take home in per visit is dependent on the amount of members included in the family.

The time allocated specifically for the student body for the food assistance is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Walk-ins are absolutely encouraged and anyone is welcome no matter their age or their situation. When dealing with students, confidentiality is a priority and customers will not be asked to answer and invasive questions beyond the simple questionnaire found on the top of the “shopping list.” Mutual trust and respect is a large part of the help offered by the organization. The Office of Community Involvement and Service at Missouri State University has partnered with Well of Life to form a useful and reliable source of food assistance for students who seek such support. Acquiring help is never something to be embarrassed about, and the Office of Community Involvement and Service encourages students to obtain the aid and support they seek.

Call the Well of Life Food Pantry at (417)-869-2865 for more information.

Students with specific questions can call the director of Community Involvement and Service at (417)-836-4840

Also, follow Well of Life Food Pantry and Ozarks Food Harvest on Facebook for special announcements and additional information on how you could help by getting involved!

 

Click HERE for more information about Student Food Assistance.

By Jerrica Shine - Kickapoo University