KCSL Celebrates 25 Years!

Julia Mueller
October 30, 2013

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Lynne Wright Kernodle and her son, John Robert Kernodle III, cut the ribbon marking the dedication of the service learning center. Photo courtesy of Magazine of Elon, Spring 1997.

This academic year the Kernodle Center for Service Learning is celebrating its 25th anniversary! The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement provides a variety of volunteer opportunities to students, faculty, and the community.  The goal is to promote leadership, student learning, and citizenship through community engagement. The Center for Service Learning was founded in 1988 when Habitat for Humanity was chartered at Elon College.  In 1989, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter promoted Habitat for Humanity during his visit to Elon.  In 1990, Elon Volunteers (EV!) was founded as a part of the Chaplain’s Office.  In 1992, the Center for Service Learning hired its first paid staff member, which was funded through a grant given to the college from the United Church of Christ.  The academic year from 1992-1993 were the first years that volunteer hours and number of volunteers were tracked.  The Service Learning Community was founded in 1994 along with the academic courses linked to service.  The “Call to Service” winter term course was first offered in 1996.In 1997, the Center for Service Learning received an endowment gift from the John R. Kernodle, Sr. family.  After this endowment gift, the Service-Learning Center was renamed as the Kernodle Center in honor of John R. Kernodle, Jr.  2000-2001 was the first year that Elon’s Habitat for Humanity built two homes.  In 2001, Elon College became Elon University.  The North Carolina Campus Compact was formed the same year.  In 2003, Pam Kiser was named the first Kernodle Center Faculty Development Fellow for Academic Service-Learning.  In 2005, the Frueauff Foundation granted two new programs, the Community Partnership Initiative Grants and Leaders in Collaborative Service (LINCS).  Elon University founded Campus Kitchen in 2009 and changed the name to the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.  2010 was the first year Campus Kitchen began its operations, and Elon University students participated in over 100,000 hours of service.

The Kernodle Center manages Elon Volunteers! (EV!) at Elon University.  Programs through EV! include Academic Service Learning, America Reads, Avalon, Best Buddies, Campus Kitchen, EU-CERT, EV! Coaches, Linking Generations, Lunch Buddies, Safe Rides, Get on the Bus, the Downtown/East Burlington BioBus Express Route, and S.H.A.R.E.  Leaders in Collaborative Service (LINCS) is a program in EV! that works with Allied Churches, Boys and Girls Club, Burlington Housing Authority, Cummings High School, Family Abuse Services, Kopper Top, and Positive Attitudes Youth Center.

Service organizations that reside under Elon Volunteers! are Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children, Safe Rides, and Sierra Student Coalition.  Service organizations at Elon University that are not a part of Elon Volunteers! are Alpha Phi Omega, Autism Speaks U Elon, Colleges Against Cancer, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Helping Elon Actively Remember Together, Rotaract Club, and Team Hero.  The Service Learning Community is offered for students to live, grow, and adapt to life at Elon in the same residence hall.  It is designed for students who share common interests in service and participate in community service projects throughout the year. Events include blood drives, poverty simulations, Special Olympics, Stop Hunger Now, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk.  Awareness organizations in Elon Volunteers! are Amnesty International, Invisible Children, OxFam, and the Sierra Club.

Another successful program offered by Elon Volunteers! is the Alternative Break program, which offers service trips over school breaks to encourage students to give back in their time off of school. Students can serve domestically in North Carolina through Turtle Island, the Appalachian Mountains and Eastern North Carolina, or other cities in the US like Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York City. There are also Alternative Breaks that take place internationally.  Students can travel to Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Malawi.  Each Alternative Break addresses a specific social issue, such as: environmental sustainability, community development, early-age education, disaster relief, hunger and homelessness, and housing rehabilitation.  Trips are available for all Fall Break, Fake Break, Spring Break and summer.

Civic Engagement Scholars are Elon University students who work with community leaders and organizations to contribute to the public good.  These students gain skills such as civic leadership.  The program is open to all students and encourages the scholars to immerse themselves in various volunteer experiences.  Civic Engagement Scholars can work individually or collaborate with others.  To be a Civic Engagement Scholar, one must complete a series of service-learning courses, co-curricular activities, and the senior project.  Faculty members are given opportunities to serve as well.  In the Service-Learning Faculty Scholars Program, six faculty members are chosen to participate in service-learning course development seminars in the fall.  The Service-Learning Faculty Scholars are offered a $1000 stipend for their participation. Frueauff Community Partnership Initiative Grants offer grants to faculty members and community partners to fund service-learning course projects.  These range from $500-$1500.

The Kernodle Center engages students locally through Elon Volunteers!, Academic Service-Learning classes, individual learning programs, research, the service Elon Learning Requirement, and Pre-Serve.  Elon University’s Downtown Center for Community Engagement was opened in 2013.  It provides a meeting space for community service organizations to use.  It also houses office space for the Village Project.  The Village Project is designed to promote literacy skills among children in the community. For more information about the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, visit http://www.elon.edu/e-web/students/servicelearning/welcome.xhtml.

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