By Chau Bui
The Goshen College business club Enactus is stepping into their second year of activity and focusing on local community.
“We focus on the local community because at first it seemed more simple and realistic,” said Corine Alvarez, a senior accounting major. “We had connection with the business, so it is easier to build trust than with some other companies from somewhere else.”
Goshen College Enactus’s current project is helping with Meals on Wheels, a national organization that distributes hot meals to homebound individuals in local communities. Its branch in Goshen is based at The Window, a local non-profit homeless shelter.
The project focuses on identifying the root that Meals on Wheels is dealing with, and finding feasible solutions. The team designs a 3-P strategy addressing people, planet, and profit.
Working on the people component, the team’s members spend many hours working one-on-one with the employees at Meals on Wheels. They also assist the employees in using the financial software QuickBooks to compute an accurate financial statement and allow for a better outlook of their financial situation.
For the planet component, the club is investigating how to minimize the negative environmental impact of the process of distributing meals by changing the location of the food provider. Currently, Meals on Wheels’ volunteers have to drive about 20 miles to Elkhart everyday to pick up the meals from their meal provider, Faith Mission.
Member Jenna Ramseyer, a junior business major, announces that the team has come up with a more efficient way to provide meals for Meals on Wheels.
“We are working with the Goshen College food supplier, AVI Fresh, to produce the meals in our community so we can eliminate the long driving distance,” said Ramseyer. “AVI Fresh also prides itself on buying and processing food from local suppliers, which is beneficial for the planet.”
To help with the profit component, the club is researching several grants that Meals on Wheels qualifies for to generate funds. They also focus on promoting awareness in the community by revamping aspects of marketing, such as designing a new brochure and planning several local fundraising events.
“We are planning on having a food stand at the First Friday in October,” Ramseyer shares. “It’ll be a fun project.”
Not only are the team’s members excited by their upcoming projects, Lisa Thompson, assistant director of Goshen’s Meals on Wheels, shares the same feeling. She voiced the appreciation for the contribution that the team has given in their first year and the hope to have a long-term relationship.
“I really enjoy working with the team. Everybody is just very enthusiastic, very helpful and responsible,” Thompson said. “I would love to see our relationship to continue developing and more projects coming out to benefit the community.”
At the same time, the core team also sees the need of setting specific goals towards the future of the club in order to maintain the energy in the long-term. They are working on recruiting more new members, structuring the club and forming an advisory council.
“We are still working on cultivating some of our strengths. We are recruiting a variety of majors and hoping to tackle new projects, finding more support from the school and other local organizations,” said Danielle Koltz, a senior business major.
Enactus is an international, non-profit organization that brings together college students who commit to using the power of entrepreneurial action to create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The Goshen College chapter was established in November last year by eight core members who are mainly students of the business department.
Goshen College Enactus’s first chapter in the 2012-2013 school year was a remarkable success when the team gained recognition at the regional and national competitions. They won first prize in their first regional event held in Chicago in April 2013. In addition to that, the team was also awarded Rookie of the Year, giving them the privilege of moving on to the national competition held in Kansas City in May. At this event, they competed against 150 other collegiate teams and once again won Rookie of the Year.
Koltz shares that one important thing to help the team find more support is to keep up the good work that they have done.
“We will continue to strive and use our skills to help Meals on Wheels and our future partners to successfully meet the needs of our local community,” Koltz said. “Hopefully more people will recognize our work, so that we will have more support.”