nterfaith Community Connections
Welcome to the virtual home for Interfaith Impact. This site is intended to become an organically evolving, electronic gathering place for collecting happenings, stimulating interfaith dialogue and service projects, as well as sharing resources to connect community interfaith efforts. Interfaith Impact is a grassroots community collaboration that was sparked by Susan Lucci in 2009.
This interfaith group is composed of diverse people who live or work in the Oak Park-River Forest community and members of two strong institutional partners, Dominican University and Concordia University. Each institution is well established in the Oak Park-River Forest area for more than a century and each has a rich history, enjoys a wonderful reputation and deep and broad community involvement.
Interfaith Impact has been meeting regularly since 2009. Each time we gather, our relationships are strengthened and the conversation deepened. Our chief concern is to create a sustainable community-based initiative that includes reflection, dialogue and service, appeals to many ages and diverse peoples, and makes a sincere impact in our community. The umbrella of “interfaith” we operate under includes all peoples of all ages, genders, roles, faiths, lifestances, beliefs, and traditions. No one is excluded.
SHARED VALUES: When leaders gather, it is natural to wonder where the group’s talents will intersect with local needs. Feeling the effects of the economic downturn and also noticing an amazing local outreach, our group quickly identified a shared value of relieving hunger and homelessness. The Oak Park-River Forest area is a diverse and engaged community that is also rich in resources, making it ripe for interfaith interaction. In retrospect, it seems as though all that was needed was a single catalyst – in this case a community activist-mother of three (turned OCON ambassador), to connect and energize the possibilities.
Also in this community, we are fortunate to have two well-established agencies successfully combatting the problems of hunger and homelessness: the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry (http://www.oprffoodpantry.org <http://www.oprffoodpantry.org> ) and West Suburban PADS (http://www.westsuburbanpads.org <http://www.westsuburbanpads.org> ). Taking advantage of a theme already activated for the month of November at both universities, our group began planning a “hunger banquet” for November 2010. (A hunger banquet is a meaningful, hands-on method useful for a large, diverse and even multigenerational group to understand statistics and solutions for dealing with this issue.) Both universities had successfully executed hunger banquets in the past and were eager to host meaningful events. Believing that student leadership is key, we actively began building relationships among students of both universities (through the best avenue possible, food!).
MAKING AN IMPACT: Beyond raising awareness, our goals are to educate and inform participants about the hunger and homelessness statistics in our community and the world at large, to involve them in meaningful community-service targeted at providing solutions to this issue through volunteer opportunities with both agencies, and to engage the participants in reflective interfaith dialogue. Our first major event was continuing the DU tradition of a hunger banquet in November 2010. More than 200 people attended. (A hunger banquet is an event where folks are served meals dependent on world ratios of famine, mirroring international statistics.) Our next hunger-awareness raising event will take place at DU on October 6, 2011. This time, we will up the ante a bit, by making a call to action inviting participants to engage in 10 acts relieving hunger in our community. Imagine the Impact!