Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Be "the men and women for others"...

By: Angie Funnell 
      CCASL’s mission is to develop student leaders with an ethic of service and a life-long thirst for social justice. Through values of community, hearth, justice, respect, transformation and creativity, CCASL provides the opportunity for students at Gonzaga to embark on the Jesuit philosophy of being “the men and women for others.” This is a philosophy that student leader, Alex Power has embarked on. 

     Alex Power is a Senior Business Administrations major, with concentrations in Marketing and HR Management. Alex has done a variety of service with CCASL since his freshman year at Gonzaga, from mentoring programs to co-curricular programs! Alex was a Campus Kids mentor in his freshman and sophomore year, and Smile Coordinator his sophomore and junior year. He participated in Reality Camp entering into his freshman year, and joined the staff as a Coordinator during his sophomore, junior and senior year! Alex was also a participant on Mission Possible (M:P) during his freshman and sophomore year. He most recently led a team on M:P as a Coordinator in his junior year and will again this spring as a senior!

    Alex says, “I started doing service in my sophomore year in high school. I have such a privileged life and we take for granted what we have some times. People don’t realize the personal reward that they can gain from doing service.” Alex has pursued the Coordinator role with many of CCASL’s programs because he wants to make sure that the other mentors have the same incredible, heart-rending, and eye opening experiences he has had.

    Serving through CCASL’s mentoring program Smile, Alex loved spending the simplest hour with kids. All it takes is an hour of your weekly schedule to inspire, influence, encourage happiness in a child’s life! Serving through Campus Kids, Alex loved the act of mentoring a child, and watching their growth over the years. Reality Camp offers 40 freshman the opportunity to witness a different side of Spokane that many residents aren’t able to experience. Mission Possible (M:P) is an encouraging spring break alternative because it “forces you out of your comfort zone and you have the ability to experience sides of people’s lives that you typically never are able to see,” said Alex.

    Told through Alex's perspective: “During Mission:Possible freshman year, I was working in a clothing bank in downtown Portland and this man named Miguel entered. Every man that entered was allowed to take two shirts, long sleeve shirt, jacket, sweatshirt, socks, hats, and trade shoes. Miguel asked me if I had any more long underwear, but unfortunately I had just given the last pair away. Miguel continued to walk around the room and returned with a pair of socks and said he was done. I looked at him and offered to help him find more clothes to fill up his bag. Miguel looked at me with a smile and said ‘this is all I need, other people will need this stuff.’”

    For Alex, “service is what I want to do with my life- to serve.” After graduation, Alex is applying to the JVC. He’d love to do two years of service in the South or New England. He would love to engage in something that he has never done before, such as working with homeless teams or work with ex-convicts. In high school, he did a lot of homeless outreach. Alex wishes that more students would volunteer with the CCASL programs. He’s said, “You end up gaining more than you give.” 

Follow CCASL on twitter GonzagaCCASL or check our Facebook page:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Campus Kids Mentoring

By: Angie Funnell 

CCASL's mentoring program Campus Kids had their first Saturday Activity at Greenbluff farms! Approximately 100 GU student leaders, staff and meetees enjoyed a delightful day filled with activities inlcuding a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, hay maze, and even a "Pubkin Chunkin," where a pumpkin is shot out of a canon! Mentees came from five participating elementary schools, which include Logan, Bemiss, Longfellow, Garfield, and Stevens.

A student leader, Brianne Byers is a senior Business major at Gonzaga University and a CCASL student mentor through Campus Kids. Bri has always had a love for children and been a babysitter and nanny throughout her years of high school. Spending time with kids is a reminder of what is important to her in life- relationships.

Brianne has been a part of campus kids through CCASL since her freshman year. Bri has had the privilege to work with the same family the entire time. The relationship Bri has built with this family is very special and unique, because she was first able to work with her current mentee's older sister. Brianne has developed a beautiful, encouraging friendship with her mentee. Even when she studied abroad in Florence, Italy she was still able to keep up with her regular Tuesday activities with her mentee through skype! 

She said, "I think service gives us as students about the bigger picture in life. It shows us how giving back can directly affect people even when you might not directly notice it.  Service is a way for students to escape the simplicity of our lives and learn about someone else, focus the obsessive amount of attention we put on our schooling and bettering ourselves by helping others."

Brianne admires the soul purpose Campus Kids upholds, which is to help kids. She's said, "I believe after helping to raise my younger sister that kids have the most impact on the world and if they are not given a proper example they aren't going to understand what it means to be a leader. I love the mentality of Campus Kids and all of the staff which constantly encourages and supports students during their experience working with the elementary school students." 

To become a Student Mentor please contact Bailley Wootton at 509-313-6821 or or visit the website at Campus Kids. 

Spring Break Spokane - Moved to March 2013

After careful consideration, the Center for Community Action and Service Learning has decided to postpone the annual Spring Break Spokane for next March 2013 This decision comes from student feedback and a desire to do a more in depth work in our community in line with what is taking place during mission possible. We appreciate all the support and service of our volunteers from Spring Break Spokane and thank you for your patience as we seek to improve this program for Gonzaga’s students and the Spokane community.

We are considering revamping the program to focus on the area of refugees and immigrants in the Spokane area and will continue the program in March 2013. If you are interested in joining a focus group or being a part of student leadership for 2013, please contact Luisa Gallagher at

Follow CCASL on twitter GonzagaCCASL or check our Facebook page:

Friday, October 14, 2011

For Gonzaga University students Community action and service learning introduce Jesuit values for service, justic

By Mary Hazuka: Gonzaga Student writer for The Fig Tree

Gonzaga University's Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL) plant seeds of the Jesuit identity of service and justice . 

Gonzaga CCASL

As CCASL helps students be involved in the community through service-action programs, it transforms them to become active participants in their communities after graduation. 

“A high number of graduates go on to serve in the Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Teach for America. Service is a pathway for students to become dynamic members of their communities for their whole lives,” said Sima Thorpe, assistant dean of students and founder and director at CCASL, which now has 32 programs, eight of which are mentoring programs.

“It is the realization of a long-term dream to see how the program has progressed. About 2,800 students annually are involved in  service,” she said. “There are  service-learning classes in almost every department with 90 faculty involved and 1,500 students participating in more than 30 classes each semester.”

CCASL provides different programs to attract students to service related to their interests and studies.

Todd Dunfield, the associate director of CCASL, started  as a mentor with Campus Kids, one of the first mentoring programs. Since graduating from Gonzaga University in 2000, he has helped the program grow, serving through AmeriCorps from 2000 to 2001.

He attributes the success of GU mentoring programs to the many students who return every year. “They come back to  mentoring programs, such as Campus Kids. About 45 percent of student mentors are sophomores.  We don’t  recruit freshman until late spring,” Todd said.

Campus Kids mentoring after school on campus has helped at-risk children in fourth through sixth grades succeed in academics and relationship building for 15 years. Many mentors work with the same student for several years.

“Students are great role models for at-risk children. There are positive learning outcomes for both the children and the student mentors,” Sima said.

Senior Lindsey Friessnig, who has participated for three years, said, “It’s a way for me to integrate service into my Gonzaga routine. By spending a few hours a week with my fellow mentors and mentees, it has demonstrated how easy it is to take a step back from life in college and to do something for others. It has also been an opportunity to learn about social justice issues that impact our schools and communities.”

Student teams do homework and educational games together. One Saturday a month, students and mentees do activites, such as trips to a skating rink or apple picking at Green Bluff.

“Three years ago, I met my bouncy, bright-eyed mentee and had no idea what to expect,” Lindsey said.  She has found consistency crucial: “Always being there when I say I will is a little act that goes a long way and establishes trust,” she said.

Other mentoring programs offered are Student Mentoring in Life and Education (SMILE), building self-esteem; Earthbound, teaching sustainability, and Zag Study Buddies, doing tutoring and academic mentoring.

Another popular program is Mission:Possible, a service-immersion program that sends students during spring break across the country for a week of community service and mission to such cities as Portland, Ore., Denver, Colo., Tacoma, Wash., and  San Francisco, Calif. 

Student leaders and a faculty member run Mission:Possible. The small group setting supports bonding, and trips introduce the four pillars of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps—simplicity, spirituality, service and community. 

CCASL also offers an Spring Break Spokane, in which students serve in the local area, reaching out to those in their backyard to address issues of this community.

Todd said student slots for Mission:Possible filled up within four hours this past year.

Many students do Mission: Possible three or four times, he said. Based on feedback, CASSL finds that the most impact is from immersion trips.

For example, the pre-orientation Reality Camp draws 40 incoming freshman to campus early for a night and day of service at the House of Charity, a night on campus, one in the woods and the last night on campus, so they are immersed in Spokane and come to know their neighbors, he said.
Reality Camp also emphasizes the Jesuit pillars.

A student who participated in the Way of the Heart retreat and Special Olympics wanted to connect students year round  with people with developmental disablities. The student started CCASL's program, Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation, which has more than 50 volunteers. It does sports and puts on plays to raise funds for local people with developmental disabilities. It wants students and local people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and ages to feel welcome, respected and loved.

CCASL supports social justice educational programs through Just Desserts, a dessert with a forum and speakers discussing current justice issues such as human trafficking. Students learn ways to help homeless or hungry people, or fight AIDS through local organizations.

Sima Thorpe
Todd Dunfield and Sima Thorpe
“Service requires people. Students and staff lead the programs, working with 150 community partners and  volunteers. CCASL is run 50 percent by grants, donations and fund raising, and the university underwrites the rest,” said Sima, who is fulfilled by sharing her commitment to social justice.
Growing up in a Middle-Eastern-American household, she experienced and learned about injustice at an early age. She learned from her parents, who were teachers, to work for justice.

“My father, an Iranian immigrant, met and married my mother at the University of Oregon.  During the Iran-Iraq war, most of my family in Baghdad, Iraq, became refugees and moved into our home in Eugene,” said Sima. She went to the University of Oregon because it had one of the first service learning programs. Throughout college she worked with homeless, hungry and poor people, going into their homes. After graduating in 1985, she taught poor and low-income children, including at the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation.  She was an advocacy paralegal from 1988 to 1994. 

Todd came to Gonzaga from Texas, seeking a school with a culture driven by social justice and service.

Going often to daily Mass with his family, he learned about care of the poor.  He majored in history with plans to teach, but went on to earn a master's degree in student affairs in 2004 at Seattle University before returning to Spokane to work at CCASL.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mission:Possible (M:P) Sign Ups!

CCASL's Mission:Possible service trip takes over one hundred student, faculty and staff to 10 different location sites across the US from Missisippi to Montana.  We are very excited about the interest in the Mission:Possible program this year! 

The women’s portion of mission:possible filled up within the first 13 minutes! Fortunately, we still have spaces available therefore freeing up some of the students on the waiting list to participate. We will inform the students on the waiting list by Monday October 10th.  Our first Mission:Possible logistics meeting will be October 17th at 9pm. 

For more information please contact: Luisa Gallagher at