WHAT’S INSIDE 3
E XECUTIVE D IRECTOR ’ S W ELCOME
A D REAM R EALIZED
M ARTIN L UTHER K ING , J R . D AY OF S ERVICE
S OUTH C AROLINA ’ S H UNGER G AMES | SNAP’ S E VOLUTION
10 H UNGER AND H OMELESSNESS A WARENESS W EEK 2012 11 D ISCOVER VITA | NSLVE S TUDENT V OTING I NITIATIVE
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WELCOME We have just crossed the halfway mark for this academic year and the efforts of South Carolina Campus Compact members to civically engage students and positively impact community challenges have been remarkable. During the past six months, August through January, our member institutions have reported the recruitment of 7, 393 campus volunteers and 420 community volunteers. These volunteers served 20,790 individuals, 267 of whom were reported as veterans, through various projects and events for a total of 42,145 hours of service. A major portion of the recruited volunteers and service hours reflected in our mid-year report were in direct response to nationally and internationally recognized days of service. Each year volunteers join together in the call to action in November and January to serve others during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, respectively. SCCC could not be more impressed with the dedication to service and student development demonstrated by the staff and faculty of our member institutions. Throughout this issue of Better Together we highlight these inspiring and impactful events. Thank you for your continued support of South Carolina Campus Compact and our mission to improve “the ability of higher education institutions to partner with their communities to collectively impact community needs and provide real world learning for college students.” Jessica Lynn Executive Director
S O U T H C A R O L I N A C A M P U S C O M PA C T M E M B E R I N S T I T U T I O N S Benedict College President Dr. David Holmes Swinton Ms. Tondeleya Jackson
Columbia College President Elizabeth A. Dinndorf Ms. Mary Carlisle & Dr. Ned Laff
Charleston Southern University President Dr. Jairy C. Hunter Jr. Dr. Rick Brewer & Dr. Hester Young
Converse College President Dr. Elizabeth A. Flemming Rev. Jason Loscuito
Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale Ms. Carolyn Snell & Ms. Jennifer Holliday
Greenville Technical College President Dr. Keith Miller Ms. Susan Gasque & Ms. Sandra Hartsell
Clemson University President James F. Barker Ms. Jennifer Shurley & Ms. Jennifer Goree
Midlands Technical College President Dr. Marshall White, Jr. Dr. Diane Carr & Ms. Mary Rawls
Coastal Carolina University President Dr. David A. DeCenzo Ms. Whitney Comer
Newberry College President Dr. Maurice William Sherrens Dr. Joseph McDonald
College of Charleston President Dr. P. George Benson Ms. Stephanie Visser
The Citadel Lt Gen John W. Rosa Dr. Conway Saylor
The University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides Dr. Susan Alexander, Dr. Jimmie Gahagan, Ms. Theresa Harrison & Dr. Dottie Weigel The University of South Carolina– Beaufort Chancellor Dr. Jane T. Upshaw Dr. James Glasson & Ms. Kate Torborg Vermilyea The University of South Carolina– Upstate Chancellor Dr. Thomas F. Moore Ms. Kara Ferguson Winthrop University President Dr. Anthony DiGiorgio, Chairman Ms. Laura Foster & Ms. Ellin McDonough Wofford College President Dr. Benjamin Bernard Dunlap Ms. Jessalyn Story
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M ARTIN L UTHER KING D AY OF S ERVICE SERVES AS A DAY ON, NOT OFF, AND AIMS TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITIES, EMPOWER INDIVIDUALS, BRIDGE BARRIERS, AND CREATE SOLUTIONS ACROSS S OUTH C AROLINA.
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PEOPLE S E R V E D
COMMUNITY PARTNER SITES
"This is not a black holiday; it is a people's holiday," said Coretta Scott King after President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983. But in the complicated history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it has only recently been a holiday for all the people, all the time.
gress for eight years, unable to gain enough support until President Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia, vowed to support a King holiday.
The bill faced a somewhat tougher fight in the Senate, however. In an opposition campaign led primarily by Senators John P. Fifteen years earlier, on April 4, 1968, Mrs. King had lost her East and Jesse Helms of North Carolina, some attempted to husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to an assassin's bullet. emphasize King's alleged dalliances and his associations with In the months after the death of the civil rights icon, Congress- communists as reasons not to honor him with a federal holiday. man John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan introduced the first legislaPresident Reagan signed the bill into law in November 1983 tion seeking to make King's birthday, Jan. 15, a federal holiday. and the first official holiday was observed on the third Monday The King Memorial Center in Atlanta was founded around the of January 1986. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Lusame time, and it sponsored the first annual observance of ther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and King's birthday, in January 1969, almost a decade and a half charged the Corporation for National and Community Serbefore it became an official government-sanctioned holiday. vice with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the Before then, individual states including Illinois, Massachusetts third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only and Connecticut had passed their own bills celebrating the ocfederal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day casion. on, not a day off." The origins of the holiday are mired in racism, politics and conIn 2000, 17 years after the law's official passage and the same spiracy. Three years after Conyers introduced preliminary legyear removed the Confederate flag from its statehouse dome, islation in 1968, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference South Carolina signed a bill recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. — which King headed from its inception until his death — preDay as a paid holiday. sented Congress with a petition signed by more than 3 million people supporting a King holiday. The bill languished in Con-
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MARTIN LUTHER KING
DAY OF SERVICE 2013
Top: USC Upstate, Wofford College and Converse College students participate with Operation Christmas Child; Newberry College and members of the community march across Newberry to Bethlehem Baptist Church. Right: Columbia College students donate a pint of blood to help save a life.
Above: Winthrop University partners with York Technical College and Clinton Junior College students for a highway clean up. Far left: Benedict College and Midlands Technical College present a Health and Safety Fair, including Zumba lessons. Left: College of Charleston and Charleston Southern University team up with The Citadel to prepare food for Crisis Ministries.
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Above: Claflin University participates in a Serve and Watch Inauguration viewing. Top left: University of South Carolina students clean up yards in the community. Left: Greenville Technical College makes cards for sick children and deployed service members. Coastal Carolina University sorts clothing. Bottom left: Cadets at The Citadel work on a Habitat for Humanity build. Below: Clemson University students build stairs and ramps for local homes.
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S OUTH C AROLINA’ S H UNGER G AMES In South Carolina over 100,000 households depend on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) each month to get the food they need for good health. College of Charleston VISTA Lauren Spinella explains her trials and tribulations of receiving SNAP benefits in South Carolina. Her experience was covered in conjunction with College of Charleston’s 2012 Food Stamp Challenge.
Step 1. The Poverty Line They told us we’d live in poverty. We must understand—really understand—the hurdles that those living in poverty must leap over in order to survive. “Brace yourself,” they told us, it’s going to be rough. I didn’t and it was. My name is Lauren Spinella and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA. The AmeriCorps VISTA program is an initiative geared towards sustaining and strengthening existing anti-poverty organizations. The people served by these organizations live below the poverty line; as an AmeriCorps VISTA, so do I. Coming from a middle-class family and a financially stable household, I had trouble wrapping my head around the whole idea of poverty. I had savings. I had support. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t worried until about two weeks into my VISTA term when I found myself holding up the checkout line at Publix, frantically digging through the bottom of my purse for pennies and nickels to pay for my PopTarts and Ramen Noodles. Yes, I had savings and yes, I had support—but when my car was totaled (courtesy of a reckless driver) and my home was flooded (courtesy of Hurricane Isaac), my savings were no more. Life happened and I was broke. I could barely scrounge up enough pocket change to cover my $10 gro-
cery bill and after two weeks of running on sugar and hope, I could feel my body closing up shop. My wallet and body agreed: it was time to ask Uncle Sam for food stamps. Step 2: Apply In mid-September I started the process of applying for food stamps. The flooding had knocked out my internet access, but luckily, I could look up information online at work. The application process went as follows: 1. Google.com Google Search: “I need food stamps in South Carolina” 2. Click on: The South Carolina Department of Social Services. 3. Click on: Apply for benefits. 4. Fill out a short application asking for information on your income, rent payments, and other bills. 5. Submit. 15 minutes later, I was done and getting back to work. “This couldn’t be any easier,” I thought. I was wrong. Step 3: Phone interview I received a letter on October 4th asking me to call in to the Department of Social Services to complete my phone interview. Food stamp applicants must interview with a social worker to clarify any inconsistencies in their application and further express their need for assistance. I realized later how much this speaks to the whole process
T HE S UPPLEMENTAL N UTRITION P ROGRAM
KEY SNAP LEGISLATION
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp program, provides benefits to people in households with low income and few assets to help them purchase food to be eaten at home.
In 2011, 14% of Americans— about 1 in 7— received SNAP benefits. On average, SNAP’s 45 million participants received $134 per month.
Welfare reform produces major cutbacks to the Food Stamp program
2002 Farm bill offered states opportunities to streamline the application process
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Farm bill increased benefits and changed the name of the program to SNAP
established federal Food Stamp program
of applying for food stamps. Having to provide a detailed description of how you are struggling to barely get by and how badly you need assistance to a total stranger can feel incredibly humiliating and frustrating. I had until October 24th to call in for my phone interview. With our big event “Dash for Trash” coming up, I barely had time to eat lunch, let alone spend two hours on the phone with Social Services. “Dash for Trash” was on October 20th. I planned to call in immediately afterwards. However, I didn’t get that far. On October 15th, I received a letter saying I had missed my phone interview. “What? How is this possible?” I double checked the first letter. “Please call by October 24th to complete your phone interview.” I double checked the date on the calendar-- October 15th. At the bottom of the new letter, it said “Call in by October 31st. Social Services had already taken the liberty to extend my interview deadline. The next day at work, I rushed to get the bulk of my work done in the morning. At 3:00 pm, I called in to the Department of Social Services. “Thank you for calling. Your wait time is approximately 45 minutes.” I put my phone on speaker and left it on my desk while I continued working. 32 minutes into my wait, the call was disconnected. At this time, it was just after 3:30 pm. The phone lines closed at 4:30. I knew that by the time I waited for another 45 minutes and finally got through to a representative, it would be too late to conduct the interview. The next day, I finished my work by 1:30 pm, leaving plenty of time for me to call (and call back if the call was dropped) and complete the interview. After about 45 minutes of fumbling through an automated menu and waiting on hold, I finally got through to a human being and began the interview. At the end, my interviewer told me that she would be sending me a letter listing all of the documentation she needed me to send back in. “Can’t you just tell me what I need to send now so I don’t waste any time waiting for the letter?” I asked. She couldn’t, so I waited.
Step 4: The Letter About two weeks later, I received the letter. They asked me to send back a copy of my lease, proof of income, and a copy of my electric bill. I had to wait two more weeks waiting for a letter that listed only three things? I received the letter on Monday, October 29th and had to get the documentation in by Friday, November 2nd. Just one business week. Question: How was I going to take off work to drive to North Charleston and wait in line for an hour just to hand in three papers? Answer: I wasn’t. I printed out the three documents they asked for (thankfully, I have a printer at work), put them in a stamped envelope, and sent them off to the Department of Social Services. Steps 5, 6, and 7: Wait. I was actually denied after sending in my documentation. I sent the materials through certified mail and while they were signed for, indicating that they were received, I was sent a letter soon after saying that my application was denied because that documentation was never received. After speaking with a DSS representative, I was able to sort it out—though it did push my process back a few weeks, ultimately resulting in me receiving my SNAP benefits in December. To clarify, I am grateful for the assistance I receive from the Department of Social Services. I recognize the challenges of applying for SNAP and how I was lucky in a lot of ways: to have familial support after the flooding in my apartment and the flexibility I have at work, for starters. However, someone else in the same situation might not have been able to print out their documentation, or take time off work to go to Department of Social Services. What if you don’t have a car to drive to the office? What if you’ll lose your job if you take time off of work? What if your process is pushed back and you just can’t go a few more weeks without food security? I was lucky that I could afford to wait a few months while waiting for my benefits to be processed. Not everyone can.
states opportunities to
gross income test and
streamline the appli-
national standards of eligibility
allowed states to
eligibility for many
cation and reporting
increased the current
and work requirements
require participants to
Transfer Card as an
processes and reinstat-
maximum benefit by
look for work
placed time limit on
ed eligibility for certain
to issuing benefits
food stamp receipt
groups denied bene-
for certain groups;
fits under the 1996
and reduced the
growth of the maxi-
formalized income exclusions
Under subsequent amendments, the
Increased benefits by
maximum benefit will fall
raising the minimum standard deduc-
back to its unadjusted
tion and increased minimum benefits
amount in November
for one– and two-person households
NATIONAL HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS WEEK 2012 Each year, one week before Thanksgiving, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. During this week, schools, communities and cities take part in a nationwide effort to bring greater awareness to the problems of hunger and homelessness. In November 2012, South Carolina Campus Compact’s 17 member institutions held over 45 events dedicated to Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Take a look at a few highlights of the week.
From Top: Coastal Carolina students spend a night outside by recreating shanty towns. Newberry College holds a candle light vigil as part of their “Hunger Games” themed series of week-long event. Greenville Technical College and USC– Upstate team up for 60 Seconds of Service by preparing sandwiches to be donated to the local soup kitchen. Right: The Citadel’s cadets show their appreciation on Veteran’s Day by volunteering at Charleston’s Crisis Ministries. 10 | W INTER 2013 |S OUTH C AROLINA C AMPUS C OMPACT
S C C C R ESOURCE: V I T A ( V O L U N T E E R I N C O ME T A X A S S I S T A N C E ) January through April is traditionally known as tax time, and the VITA Program is in full swing. Originally founded 1971 by Gary Iskowitz at California State University Northridge, the concept was to provide local taxpayers with free tax return preparation by accounting students, in effort to provide both a valuable community service and a powerful hands-on learning experience for the students. The program grew from a small group of dedicated students to what is now a nation wide program that serves thousands of taxpayers and provides a valuable learning experience for accounting students. The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. There are thousands of VITA sites located across the country. To locate a site near you between January and April call 1-800-906-9887.
CAMPUS COMPACT PARTNERS WITH CIRCLE IN AN EXCITING STUDENT-VOTING INITIATIVE Campus Compact has partnered with The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) in a new initiative to study student-voting rates from the recent 2012 elections correlated with data from educational programs across the country. Designed to increase student civic learning and engagement in a democracy, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) will offer participating institutions the opportunity to receive information in aggregate form that can be utilized to assess engagement on their campuses as well as make comparisons to similar institutions, who have also chosen to participate. South Carolina Campus Compact member institutions have moved quickly to obtain approval to take part in this initiative. Many departments, from Political Science to Career and Civic Engagement, have joined together to show their support and to begin looking at ways this information can be used to evaluate current programs and to gauge the overall civic engagement of students. South Carolina Campus Compact is encouraging all of our members to participate so that we might also compile statistics from an organizational standpoint. Our member campuses are truly dedicated to civic engagement and democratic participation and this could offer data to support that fact. Please share this information with your counterparts at other universities and colleges throughout the state and nationally as any accredited educational institution can join the initiative. For more information, please contact Nancy L. Thomas, Director, Initiatives for the Study of Higher Education and Public Life at Tufts University at Nancy.Thomas@tufts.edu or learn more online at http://www.civicyouth.org/nslve-faq/.
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With over 5,200 people served and nearly $36,000 in donations, Martin Luther King Day of Service in South Carolina was a success. In this ed...