by Sarah Einselen News editor
---- — They’re a small group with a big vision.
A group of local community-minded activists is launching a network to recruit volunteers to conduct one-on-one and group educational sessions to spread English and Spanish literacy, communication skills and healthy habits.
The Cass Miami Christian Institute is focused on recruiting professing Christians to “seek justice, mercy and faith for the people” by volunteering in ways that improve residents’ quality of life, according to documents provided by Institute President Boone Sumantri.
While churches are doing “a great job” taking care of their members, Christians need to expand their care for area residents who are not members of a particular church, Sumantri said.
“There are deep human needs which need to be addressed, physical, mental and emotional besides the spiritual needs the churches generally focus on,” Sumantri said, like functional illiteracy, obesity and drug addiction.
Referring to a biblical command to Christians to love God completely and love their neighbors like they do themselves, Sumantri said neighbors are “the people we meet on our daily life,” such as cashiers at a grocery store or the wait staff at a restaurant.
“We need to develop the habit of caring for and loving them,” he explained, noting that the biblical command “is not an option ... It should be our lifestyle.”
Another board member suggested the area’s smaller churches may be ideal partners with the organization, since individually many are too small to run their own community service programs.
“Sometimes we kind of stay in our churches … I think it’s time that the church got out into the community,” board member Eunice Rush said.
The organization is still in its formative stages, though a pidgin sign language class taught by Sumantri has grown to three different series of sessions meeting weekly or bi-weekly.
Sumantri is also planning a workshop on applying the principles of the biblical command in participants’ daily life. Other volunteers on the organization’s board of directors plan to teach Spanish language literacy and English as a second language one-on-one. Rush expects to lead a small group session on working with different personalities.
The organization is also planning a seniors’ walking group starting May 19 in conjunction with Chase Center in Logansport.
“We believe that the entire population — not just the elderly — benefit by routine exercise,” said Don Corcoran, a spokesman for the center. Elderly people benefit from the social aspect of walking too, he said.
“My wife and I walk… You get the luxury of actually being able to talk to someone while you’re doing it, and it’s time that you probably wouldn’t spend talking,” he explained.
Sumantri has been an active volunteer in Logansport for several years, serving as a past president of the Emmaus Mission Center’s board of directors and one of those responsible for launching the Fuller Center for Housing in 2010 to combat poverty.
His goal for the new institute is to provide education for free by recruiting volunteers to donate their time and knowledge. He anticipates recruiting about a hundred volunteers to start off with, each providing about two hours per week.
More information about the Institute is available by emailing Sumantri at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about the courses and activities may be directed to Dawn Rector at 317-643-0955 or at email@example.com.
Reach Sarah Einselen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.