Wackerlin Center helps connect student to local nonprofit for service project

For students at AU, the Wackerlin Center is more than a place to reflect, to attend events and to delve into their beliefs. The center is also a place of connection and outreach. For freshman Amy Zepeda, the Wackerlin Center became a resource for her to explore her interests while making a difference for others. When Dr. Donald Phelps assigned his Interdisciplinary Studies class the task of finding a meaningful service project that they could complete together during the fall semester, Zepeda turned to the staff of the Wackerlin Center for assistance. After talking with Zepeda and hearing her describe her passions, the Wackerlin Center connected Zepeda to Celebrate Differences, a nonprofit organization based in Oswego, Ill. that provides support for and celebrates the abilities of those with disabilities.

As Zepeda learned more about the organization, her enthusiasm for helping people with disabilities quickly extended to her classmates. When it came time for the class to vote on a service project, they decided to follow Zepeda’s recommendations and host a holiday party for the children involved with Celebrate Differences. On Saturday, December 1, their work came to fruition as more than 120 people, including children and their family members, attended the on-campus event, which featured photos with Santa, storytelling and arts and crafts.

“I personally loved being able to see the difference our event created in the children’s day. All children need a non-threatening place where they can feel comfortable and enjoy the holiday spirit, and our event provided that for the children at Celebrate Differences,” said Zepeda.