With the back and forth political discussions on immigration, the Hope CommUnity Center is a place people in the Central Florida area can go for service learning immigration experiences.
Hope CommUnity Center is a service learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through education, advocacy, and spiritual growth.
“The deepest way to create valuable service is through building relationships with the community and empowering folks who are directly affected to kind of take their own action and then developing strong ally ship for the community,” said Christopher Furino, the center's director of service learning.
The Hope CommUnity Center partners with colleges and universities in the area, including UCF, to put on service learning immersion experiences.
Service learning is when those who are serving and volunteering can also learn about those they are providing a service for.
“Right now, I don’t think sometimes our community has that moment to say, you know, I feel welcomed by another person that’s not the same color as my skin or that’s not undocumented,” said Alejandra Salinas, a service learning assistant. "So it’s building that relationship and having someone from a total different background come into your house and you know, tell you this is how I live and notice how similar we are.”
For the Hope CommUnity Center, service learning immersion experiences are centered around five topics, one of which is root causes of migration building power culture of poverty community organizing and leadership.
Participants spend time living with a host family where they get to know about their experiences and their lives by living with them while also providing a service to understand their working conditions.
If a student wants to get involved, the Office of Student Involvement at UCF partners with the Hope CommUnity Center where student leaders take a group of students on either weekend or week long trips to do service learning experiences.
“We have a multitude of ways students can get connected. Alternative break program is one and we also have Volunteer UCF," said Amanda Dever, a coordinator at the Office of Student Involvement. "We have students who do regular consistent service a multitude of areas and the Hope CommUnity Center is just one of them."
Other colleges in Central Florida that partner with the Hope CommUnity Center include Rollins, Seminole State College and Stetson University.