JMC urban plunge sets its sights on Chicago

By Rachel Batdorff

This year's Urban Plunge trip will take place in Chicago. (Illustration by Tyler Johnson)

“I signed up because I wanted to serve,” Henry Maynard, a freshman, said.

Maynard and 13 other students will travel to Chicago Nov. 9-11 to participate in the Joe Mertz Center’s annual Urban Plunge. The students leave at 4 p.m. Nov. 9 and return in the late afternoon Nov. 11.

“Friday night is a cultural immersion night, Saturday will be community service all day and Sunday we will go to a church service at the church we’re staying in,” Kaitlyn Dreman, a sophomore JMC staff member and one of the student leaders for the trip, said.

“The point of the immersion night is to get students out of the Christian bubble and experience a culture that we don’t see around Huntington,” Brittany Rooze, another sophomore JMC staff member and student leader for the trip, said.

Rooze and Dreman said they will work with Emmaus Ministries Friday.

According to Emmaus Ministries’ website, this ministry offers a chance for individuals to interact with people on the streets dealing with various issues such as homelessness, addictions and poverty. There is also a change to interact witht those in the homosexual community. Participants in the event are paired up and given a map, a sheet of four specific goals which they may or may not choose to do and are asked to walk the streets for three or four hours. Afterwards the entire group gathers together to discuss the night’s events.

On Saturday the plunge will continue with more community service.

“We’ll be all around Chicago,” Dreman said of Saturday’s activities. “Basically, we’ll be wherever we can get organizations to take us.”

Dreman said they are looking to volunteer at a soup kitchen, foster care village and possibly sorting clothes for Saturday’s service projects. They are waiting to hear back from the organizations.

“We’re hoping to stay at Ravenswood United Methodist Church, but it’s not set in stone,” Brittany Rooze said.

The students would sleep and shower in the church and also attend the church service on Sunday.

“We heard last year that this was a Japanese-American church,” Rooze said. “I think staying here will add to the cultural experience.”

The cost of the trip for each student is yet to be determined.

“It depends on where we’re going for Saturday’s service projects,” Dreman said. “Student Senate approved us for some money per student which will help a lot.”

“We try to keep the cost down to a minimum, but it depends on what we do on Saturday as well as the immersion night Friday night, and food money plays a factor into that too,” Rooze added.

Dreman said there are no more available spots for the Urban Plunge.

Kahle Bryant, resident director of Livingston Hall, is the adviser for the trip and makes up the 15th member of the team.

“The adviser position is there to help students process,” Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry, said. “Students see things they don’t know what to do with. They walk away with heavy heart experiences. The adviser is there for stability, comfort and processing.”

Rooze said she knows this trip will stretch her.

“This is a different side of even our country that a lot of us have never experienced and to realize that stories we hear about are closer than we think,” she said. “When we think of Chicago after we come back, it’s not going to be skyscrapers and shopping and crowded interstates. There’s more to it.”

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