When people think about giving a class gift to a school, the usual items come to mind: creating a scholarship, naming a classroom, purchasing artwork. These are all thoughtful, generous gifts. But when members of the class of 1960 thought about giving back to UIndy for their golden anniversary, they knew they wanted something different.
It was Arlene Lenich ’60 (above, center) who came up with the idea of creating a fund to help students who want to travel abroad and conduct service projects in developing countries. She and other classmates felt that this kind of gift would most reflect the spirit and values of their class. They wanted a gift that was people-oriented and something that could change lives.
Arlene had benefitted personally from a missionary trip to Africa, and several classmates had similar experiences in Third World countries. One of those individuals was Ken Knox ’60 (above, left). Ken traveled from Atlanta to meet with History faculty member Charles Guthrie (since retired) about the idea of creating a special travel fund for students.
“Our conviction was that once young people see the conditions under which people in developing countries live, it would impact their lives and demonstrate the importance of leading a life of service,” explains Ken. “We knew that they would receive as much as they were able to give, which is a beautiful aspect of philanthropy, whether it is in the form of money or service and time.”
Ken and several other classmates, along with the help of University staff, sent letters to all members of the class of 1960—more than two years before their 50th reunion. The results were amazing. Almost half of the class contributed to the fund, and by June 2010, more than $26,000 had been collected for the “Student Fund
for International Travel.”
The funds will enable students at UIndy to spend time in a Third World country, providing public service for community projects. The gift was presented to University President Beverley Pitts during Alumni Weekend in June. But even before that presentation, the funds were already being put to use.
The previous December, Stacie Fruth and Renee Van Veld of the Krannert School of Physical Therapy had traveled with 10 entry-level physical therapy students to the village of Pommern in Tanzania (1400, summer 2010). The team helped with whatever was needed—meaning students spent time not only applying their physical therapy skills on behalf of local residents but also working in the health clinic, farming, helping to rebuild a school, and teaching conversational English.
Some of the money raised by the class of 1960 helped to defray the costs of the trip. Fruth was relieved to learn about the monetary support.
“The cost to do service work abroad, as you can imagine, is very expensive. Without the generous support of our alumni, some of the students would not have been able to afford to go on the trip. What an amazing gift
to give a young person. Watching our students make such an impact on the village was phenomenal,” explains Fruth. “You just can’t predict how much of an influence this trip will have on the villagers, our students, and the world.”
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help the University grow this fund so that future students may provide service in underdeveloped parts of the world, please contact Christen Oganowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (317) 788-3922. —Jennifer L. Huber