Students lend helping hand in CSS partnership

By Molly Kearney
April 23, 2009

On any given day, Catholic Social Services in Norristown is bustling with people. Those that go there look not only to help themselves but others as well. Cabrini College has become a valuable partner to CSS just through lending a helping hand.

Cabrini and CSS have been working together for the past three years. Cabrini Seminar 300 courses, voluntary support from faculty and the recent research of Dr. John Cordes’ public relations and advertising courses are just some of the ways that Cabrini has valued this partnership with CSS.

Elizabeth Miller, program manager at CSS, explained the process a Cabrini student will go through and how they will gain memorable experiences through different positions. Interning at CSS means more than just preparation for the business world. As a volunteer they are seeing what poverty is like, not just financially but poverty in the sense of relationships or spirituality.

“I see confidence and empathy in all our volunteers. Through their work they get an experience to work with someone one-on-one, which allows them to connect with someone and in turn knock out social stereotypes,” Miller said.

Dr. John Cordes, assistant professor of communication and professor of the public relations and advertising case study course, is working closely with CSS in a case study this semester. His students are learning how to deal in a real world situation and responding to the needs of others.

Cordes feels that his students who are participating are learning the best way to work towards social justice. “This program allows those who are privileged to give back, and that allows them to gain respect for themselves and others,” Cordes said.

Shannan Steele, junior communication major, has the best of both worlds when it comes to CSS. Steele volunteers through her Seminar 300 class on Wednesday and is also working with Cordes in his class on a research topic entitled “How do the services at CSS better impact an individual’s life?”

Through this course Steele studies how the group interacts and how things can be changed at CSS. When working with her Seminar 300 class, Steele helps out with the parenting classes.

Kristen Hughes, sophomore biology major, works at CSS through her work study and work grant program. Hughes also helps with child care during the different meetings throughout the week. Upon first coming to CSS, her knowledge was vague and she thought she would just be doing paperwork; instead she had the opportunity to help impact people’s lives.

Steele and Hughes feel that CSS does a lot of good for people and they should get more praise and recognition for their hard work and dedication.

Some examples of that work would be childcare during parenting meetings, a food cupboard for those in need and pregnancy services. Besides those offerings CSS does case management, counseling services and community and parish outreach.

“You are not just helping this person that’s not as successful as you, but this person is providing you with the opportunity to share and give. At some point you’re going to need something and so it’s reciprocal so we’re all really helping each other,” Miller said.

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Molly Kearney

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