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Lutheran Campus Ministry at UW-Eau Claire Receives Grants From Thrivent Financial, UW-Eau Claire Foundation

RELEASED: March 6, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — Twenty-four University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will be awarded Summer Service Fellowships to work as volunteers in Washington, D.C., this summer, thanks to grants from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Lutheran Campus Ministry at UW-Eau Claire recently received $32,250 from Thrivent Financial's Youth Leadership Initiative grant program, supplemented by a $10,000 grant from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, to expand its Alternate Winter Break program. As part of the alternate break program, students spend part of their winter break volunteering in schools and shelters in the nation's capital.

"Thrivent Financial is proud to support programs working to prepare youth and young adults to become confident and service-minded leaders," said Neil Camrud, manager of Lutheran Community Services for the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula region in Eau Claire.

The Youth Leadership Initiative program helps Lutheran organizations develop young leaders through service learning, a teaching and learning strategy that challenges young people to go beyond their normal volunteer or community service project, Camrud said.

"Service learning allows young men and women to appreciate the issues facing their community and experience firsthand how they can make a difference," Camrud said.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation has been a partner with the Alternate Winter Break program for years, said Carole Halberg, Foundation president.

"Thanks to grants received from the Juedes-Molinaro and Gering Family Foundations, we were able to pilot this summer fellowship program last year," Halberg said. "It was such a success that we are pleased to participate in this new opportunity to help our students expand their service efforts. And working in our nation's capital only enriches the experience for our students."

During the next two years, Summer Service Fellowships will be awarded to 48 students and four advisers who will spend a week in July or August volunteering at three Washington, D.C., sites, including the nation's largest homeless shelter, a medical facility for indigent men and women, and a day care for homeless women.

The students will learn about the organizations, study the sorts of individuals and needs these organizations serve, and reflect on the causes of social inequality in the United States, said Lutheran campus pastor Don Wisner, founder of the programs.

"We will award the fellowships to students who are committed to public service and who demonstrate leadership potential," said Wisner. "These students also agree to serve as team leaders during the Alternate Winter Break trip."

The fellowships provide for travel, room and board while the students are in Washington, D.C. Students also earn one credit for their efforts.

The site coordinator in Washington, D.C., is Betsy Wendt, a bilingual counselor at Marie Reed Learning Center, where UW-Eau Claire students have volunteered for the past 16 years. The project directors are Rachel Keniston, parish coordinator at University Lutheran, and Dr. Allen Keniston, professor of psychology at UW-Eau Claire and faculty adviser to the Lutheran Student Association.

More information about Summer Service Fellowships is available on the University Lutheran Church Web site.

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JW/JB

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