SALT wraps up the year with success

The Social Action Leadership Team (SALT) organized many events this year to raise money for community outreach. Their fundraising goal was $25,000 which they hope to achieve through a variety of events.

This year, SALT’s World Relief Campaign was titled “H.O.P.E. for Honduras,” (Healthcare Opportunities and Personal Empowerment) after the Humanity and Hope UnitedFoundation was chosen by SALT members. The foundation, with funding from SALT, is creating healthcare clinic buildings out of shipping containers for rural communities in Honduras.

“Apart from just the basic care that’s being provided there as well, which they do have a doctor on staff so it’s not just going to be this, but they are able to train local people who are in the village to serve as healthcare workers to help assist, and this opens up new doors for them if they want to go to larger cities or just continue to serve their community there. And then they’re also having local health seminars too, and the community members are so excited about them,” Sims said. “This is an opportunity they’re not receiving elsewhere…[The Humanity and Hope United Foundation is] so well-rounded as an organization that we’re so excited to partner with them.”

The organization put on a $4000 Week, involving the Tug-Of-War event between President Padilla and Provost Johnson. SALT’s annual color run, Color 4 A Cause 5k, raised over $1500. These events and fundraising efforts are led by sub-committees in SALT, such as donor relations, the color run committee, the advocacy committee and the community relations committee. Chairperson Maredeth Sims sees the club as a community in which members, or SALTers, are given the opportunity to participate in outreach projects both locally and abroad.

“To me, SALT is teaching students to connect passion with action,” Sims said.

In the fall, SALT splits into “passion groups,” or areas of interest that then spark different philanthropic events throughout the semester. Each passion group is related to a specific community need. The four student-voted passion group topics from this past fall included: foster care, the refugee crisis, environmental concerns and mental health. Each passion group is paired with an organization, either on-campus or off-campus, to help address these issues in the community.

“[SALTers] get to assemble and say, ‘What do we do?’ SALT teaches members to use that passion to drive something,” Sims said. “SALT teaches that it’s okay to be passionate about something.”

Each passion group focused on spreading awareness about the issues and their partner organizations to raise money to donate to each cause. To do this, SALT members have done tabling this year in the Union. For instance, the environmental concerns passion group partnered with Earthtones during the fall, and the mental health passion group paired with Active Minds for some events.

“They get to connect, they do research together, they learn together. And it’s a safe space to learn, to share your experience, and how that differs from other people’s. And then you get together and like, ‘What actions can we take?’ So it connects that passion with an action,” Sims said.

Towards the end of the fall semester, SALT moves on to select their chosen world relief campaign for the spring semester. The World Relief Campaign (WRC) chair is a member from SALT who leads the process of sorting through applications submitted to SALT by organizations who are looking for money to fund their outreach projects for that year.

“The World Relief Campaign is something that’s totally tangible of making a difference because in the fall, they were making small steps towards [a big difference in the community] but the spring is just amping that up times a thousand,” Sims said.

In terms of previous world relief campaigns, recent SALT partnerships include several different areas of outreach. In spring 2019, SALT partnered with Housing Opportunities, Inc. in Valpo to repair roofs at Caroline’s Place. In spring 2020, SALT worked with the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants centered in Chicago to help those seeking asylum get job certifications in the United States. Most recently in spring 2021, SALT and The Community Change Center: WeAreOne, Inc. worked to repair houses and help previously released prisoners find houses in order to improve their lives and reduce recidivism rates in the local area.

“I think a lot of the reason and topical events very much inform what SALTers are passionate about that year,” Sims said. 

The entire process has been student-run since SALT was first established in the 1980s. 

“SALT staff is very tight-knit, and it’s a great environment to be in, and there’s a lot of leadership opportunities to step up into. And even though we’re small, I’m not scared at all for continuation of leadership because they’re awesome and they’re very dedicated to it,” Sims said.

SALT is a student-led campus organization known for their unifying, faith-based presence on campus towards social justice related projects. Their mission statement is derived from the Bible verse Matthew 5:13 that references the idea of humans striving to be “the salt of the earth.”

“I could not have asked for a more dedicated team. Even though our membership changed from fall to spring, the people who are there are so dedicated, and we would not have any money raised if it weren’t for them because my staff and my SALTers are absolutely incredible,” Sims said.

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