SERVE Better Together 2015
This year’s Serve Better Together took place on November 14th, 2015 at Holt Elementary School. The event was a partnership between Crossroads Community Center and the Center for Service and Leadership to bring students off all different religious groups together to dialogue about their faith and give back to the community.
Volunteer students from the Muslim Student Association, local church groups, and education students worked together on painting a new lending library and reading lounge for students. The lending library is an opportunity for students to help grow their book collections at home, as there is no due date on the books. It also a chance for students to donate books to their fellow classmates. Many of the Better Together team was set to work on organizing the large amount of books donated to start the lending library into different genres and reading levels. Another group of students helped paint Holt’s bathrooms with college logos and inspirational quotes to encourage students to pursue a future in academics.
Returning to campus, students came together for lunch and dialogue after a hard morning’s work. Gathering in small groups in the Ferguson Center Great Hall, students of all walks of life came together to discuss their differences and similarities of faith. New friendships were formed over the breaking of bread and the hard and good work of the day.
Play Better Together was a unique event hosted on 24 August, 2015 in Gorgas 205 that featured speaker Ben Spears from Ultimate Peace. Crossroads Community Center partnered with UA’s Ultimate Frisbee team to show students across campus how they can be brought together through the power of play.
Students were taught some of the basics of Ultimate by the UA team, and were invited out on a warm fall afternoon to practice throwing the Frisbee around with each other. Learning names, sharing stories, and ducking the occasional Frisbee thrown with a bit too much force lead to a lot of laughter and new friendships formed on the quad.
Spears talked to the group about his experience working to give youth in the Middle East a chance to build friendships by playing Ultimate Frisbee. He shared his experience of bringing Palestinian and Israeli youth together in the sports camp and how they would learn to work together on teams, and would gain communication skills that helped bring their communities together as a whole.
SERVE Better Together 2014
On March 15, 2014, Crossroads Community Center and the Community Service Center joined forces with Authentic Renovations Ministries and Love, Inc., to promote appreciation for diversity and community service. With funding from Target, an interfaith group of students came together to work at homes of families in need of repairs and wheelchair ramps.
Calling the event SERVE Better Together, this event was initiated by Better Together, a student organization at The University of Alabama. Better Together unites students of different faiths and philosophies by engaging them in service and community engagement projects. By giving to their community, individuals make new friends and foster new relationships for increased interfaith understanding.
By serving the public selflessly, the Common Good nature of the project helps alleviate conflicts these groups might have regarding religious differences and begins to lay the foundation for interfaith dialogue. Over 50 volunteers from Crossroads, The Community Service Center, the Crimson Secular Student Alliance, Bama Hillel, various Christian congregations, and the Muslim Student Association were able to serve Tuscaloosa residents by renovating these families’ homes.
Following a successful and rewarding day, students enjoyed dinner and interfaith dialogue at the Hillel Student Center. As the day began to wind down, students were able to strengthen new friendships formed throughout the day and discuss the importance of diversity on campus, in the community, and in our daily lives.