WAIM (Windham Area Interfaith Ministry) And the Food Drive at the Willimantic Co-Op

Leah James

UntitledI always remembered my parents repeating to my Brother and I that all they wanted us to be in life was a hardworking productive citizen. In my family we were raised to serve our community and to help those in need and to also acknowledge how fortunate we were to have a roof over our heads and will never know what it’s like to struggle. With that being instilled in our minds, I decided to never let that wish of being a productive citizen go undesired and continued to fulfill my role as a citizen. At a young age, I became a girl scout and then I decided to join best buddies then shortly after that I joined a mentoring group called Daughters of Esther in Bloomfield, CT.

My 2nd year into eastern I went to the club fair and stopped by the CCE table and knew that what I wanted to do was right in front of me; and that was to help those who needed aid in my community which is where I attend school. Though it wasn’t a community I wasn’t raised in, it still didn’t stop me from serving a community that I temporarily live in. I came across WAIM which is located on 866 Main St, Willimantic CT. This place was perfect for me because just reading the description sparked my interest and I
wanted to try something different. I never knew places like WAIM existed. At this non-profit organization, they provided kitchenware, TVs, furniture of every kind, clothes for every age group and size. What even fascinated me the most was the “career closet,” which to my understanding was specific closet for those who had job interviews but didn’t have an outfit. We offered an outfit and then when they get the job, we provided the individual with more work clothes.

WAIM’s mission is to uplift and unite the Willimantic community by providing and caring service and resources to meetUntitled1 neighbor’s needs with dignity and respect. It was amazing to see the community of Willimantic be so generous and giving each morning I volunteered. These people pulled into the loading dock with such warm and positive spirits to drop of resources for those who weren’t as fortunate. They stopped and engaged with us, the volunteers and workers and I noticed some were even
regulars. WAIM is also a volunteer driven organization that serves about 7,500 people a year via basic services and special programs! They’ve also expanded into the provision of energy assistance and administering funds to prevent homelessness.

I felt like this place was extremely wonderful for those in need. The items we had by the way were donated by people all over Willimantic that was no longer useful to them. We had so many things in variety as far as car seats, quilts, toys and strollers for the children. WAIM even provided wheelchairs, electric wheel chairs, canes, and crutches for the elderly and disabled. Whatever you needed, WAIM had it. The fact that these items were free made it even better because these are people who need a helping hand.

My duties were to organize clothes depending on age group and sizes, organizing household items, unloading the dock, and doing whatever miscellaneous things that needed to be attended to. I’ve met with citizens and other volunteers from different backgrounds and areas and I learned so much about them, I learned that though they were just like me; they’ve had many different struggles they had to overcome but the fact that they would still come in with a smile on their face was very inspiring. I feel like it’s always refreshing to know that when people go through the tough things in life, they can still remain optimistic and with the help of Untitled3WAIM; I know this organization has changed their lives and have contributed to the warm smiles on their faces.

I’ve not only learn about the objective and mission of this organization but I was also able to learn from those around me. I was able to learn from volunteers who’ve had a rough life who came to this program that was a part of their recovery and also from those who’ve come to collect things that they were in need of. I was able to form a relationship and create trust between individuals and I were they would open up to me about their lives and struggles. I’ve learned that something as little as volunteering for 2 hours a week made more of an impact than I thought. It has helped me put my selfishness to the side and to acknowledge how fortunate I am and to take my energy and to put it into something very productive. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent with WAIM.

Walk For Warmth

11/23/2014

The Windham Area Interfaith Ministry hosted Walk for Warmth, marathon to raise poverty awareness. The Center of Community Engagement volunteered to help set up the walk by placing posters around the town of Willimantic about poverty facts. After the mass at St. Joseph’s and the walk, The CCE set up a children’s activities table with coloring books and making turkey masks. Victoria Nimirowski , the director of WAIM, said that the Walk for Warmth raised $42,000, which she said it was the biggest year in 23 years of the walk.

“We are very grateful to Eastern, and to the Center for Community Engagement for all the help and support they provide for this event. The students are wonderful to work with, and are always so willing to do whatever is needed”. Victoria Nimirowski, Director of Windham Area Interfaith Ministry.

Hi Everyone!

My name is Nicolle and I am interning at the Center for Community Engagement this semester!

The photo/quote above was something that I saw when I was scrolling through Pinterest. I love Pinterest. It always amazes me how many great ideas people have. Not only that, but I have gotten some great recipes off of Pinterest! There are also days when I go on Pinterest and I feel so encouraged by quotes, such as the one above, and the stories that people are able to share just by “pinning” something on their “board.”

Yesterday, I felt so inspired, and it was not because of something I saw on Pinterest or another social media site. I felt inspired because of what I saw at the Service Fair that took place alongside Eastern’s Activity Fair. There was table after table exhibiting all the amazing community programs; alternative break opportunities and special events taking place this academic year. Student leaders sat next to community members conversing about their projects and why they were important to them. Posters, flyers, stickers, sunglasses and candy made the tables look so interesting and engaging.

As I watched Eastern students, from freshmen to seniors, walk up to these tables, I saw faces light up with passion as genuine conversations took place on what issues interested them. Pages and pages were filled on student interest sheets with names, phone numbers and e-mails of those interested in reaching out to the community through volunteering.

There were tables featuring the CCE, the Food Justice Committee, the Alternative Break Program, The Access Agency, WAIM, Relay for Life, afterschool programs, The Journey House, tutoring programs and so many more!

I just wanted to thank everyone who came to run a table and everyone who supported the Service Fair. I love that I do not have to just read the quotes on Pinterest, or just hear about great things happening around the world on the news to be inspired. By seeing how many people were interested in signing up and wanted to find out more information about all the community service opportunities happening this year, I know that there is going to be some amazing, encouraging and inspiring things happening right here in Willimantic, Connecticut!

The Service Fair was only the beginning; Let’s get started Eastern Connecticut State University Student Volunteers!

More Than A Dress

By: Lauren, Intern

The day every girl dreams of (second to their wedding) is their prom. They wonder how they will be asked, who they will go with, and of course, what they will wear. I truly believe the confidence a girl has will either make or break her night. An outfit a girl feels proud to wear can add to her confidence. The unfortunate truth though, is that some girls can’t afford the dress of their dreams, and some cannot afford a dress at all.

This is an issue I am extremely passionate about. In high school, each senior was required to choose a mentor and complete a project of their choice. The goal of the project was to do something you have never done before and for me, organizing a volunteer project was a completely new experience. With the help of my principal, who was my mentor for the project and a fashionista herself, I had girls from the entire school drop dresses off to the front desk in the office and slowly started to create a “Prom Closet.”

Once the closet was nearly full, I put reminders on the morning announcements that I would be sitting at the closet during my lunch and after school so girls could come in “just to look” or to find a dress. It was a great feeling to see girls try on that perfect dress that just happened to fit like a glove with no needed alterations. I know my small act of kindness impacted these girls’ lives and everytime they see those dresses hanging in their closet they will remember the time they danced the night away at prom and had the time of their lives.

The most rewarding part of this project was when my mother and I years later were eating dinner at a local restaurant when one of my high school teachers approached our table and informed us that she and another teacher kept the closet going after I graduated. It felt great to know I left this legacy at my high school and created a project that girls will continue to benefit from for years on end.

If you’d like to donate your old dress and you’re in the CT area, contact http://waimct.org/ to find out how. If you are not in the CT, there are dozens of organizations such as http://donatemydress.org and http://fairygodmothers.org among many others.

And think about how you can create a legacy here at Eastern. If you are passionate about supporting your community, contact the CCE at cce@easternct.edu to see how you can get involved.

Walk for Warmth 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For the past 20 years, the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) non-profit has held the Walk for Warmth to raise money for their energy assistance program to keep families warm in the cold winter months. Walkers could participate individually or as a team. Each person participating was asked to raise a minimum of $20. Preceding the 2 mile walk around Willimantic was a beautiful interfaith service at St. Joseph’s Church. RA Danny from Laurel Hall led a team of students at the walk. Additionally, RAs Leon from Burr, Angelica from Crandall, and Courtnie from Occum brought volunteers to help set up for the event, play educational games with kids to raise their awareness about poverty, and help clean up! The event as a whole raised $27,900!

To learn more about WAIM, check out their website!

http://waimct.org/