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Written by: Helina Asrat and Edited by: Abby Houston


History of CELTS

Service is one of the pillars Berea College was built upon. Berea College has always been devoted to its Christian commitments of service to those in need. It was one of the first colleges to enroll blacks, Appalachians, women students and students of lower income. The core values of service have been ingrained in Berea’s history through “the great commitments, three of which explicitly mention service; and the Strategic Plan’s common learning goals, especially with respect to reflection, personal growth, and capacities to think, decide and serve” (Hoag et al, 1998, p. 1).

In a convocation speech in 1983, President Willis D. Weatherford said, “This is our mission, this is our special service to society, this is our crown of glory. Let us hold fast to our Great Commitments and live up to our special mission!” He also warned how the college should not forget its service to those of special need by being “tempted” to focus solely on academics as the college’s fame and prosperity grows. Berea College presently not only continues to adhere to its Great Commitments but it has cultivated its “special mission” to grow into a structured service program- CELTS. 

Under President William G. Frost, the College Extension Department reached out to the Appalachian region with traveling road shows. As stated on the CELTS website, these outreach programs morphed into CAMP (Campus Action for Mountain Progress) that started in the mid-1960s and was renamed Students for Appalachia in 1968. SFA took part in different service oriented activities. In 1970 an adult literacy program called STABLE (Student Taught Adult Basic Literacy Effort) emerged and was later combined into SFA. For the next 20 years, Berea College funded SFA with a few state and federal grants. In 2000, CELTS combined different individual service led programs like SFA and the Bonner Scholars program. It also incorporated the Habitat for Humanity which was a part of the Campus Christian Center at the time.

Pictured to the right: Student Mentoring, date unknown.

Purpose of CELTS

CELTS began with the goal to integrate student-led service programs and community outreach offices, as well as to strategically combine the values of service and student learning. CELTS provides support and resources for these programs and is also a place of gathering for those who take part in service oriented activities. The mission statement of CELTS as stated in the faculty student learning hand book is “to educate students for leadership in service and social justice through promotion and coordination of academic service-learning and student led-community service.” From its humble beginnings, students had a key role in CELTS and continue to be a big part of it even today. In addition to serving their community, students grow as individuals, act as ambassadors for service at Berea College and beyond, and attain leadership, team work, and communication skills.

Pictured below: CELTS students, 2015. 

CELTS 2015Housed in the Stephenson Hall at Berea College, CELTS runs by a three part organizational structure: Academic Service-Learning, Bonners Scholar, and Community Service Programs. Academic Service-Learning is the first structure. As the full name of the organization signifies CELTS allows students to learn through service. Service-learning in CELTS is a middle ground between volunteerism and internships. While volunteerism focuses on the community and internships give emphasis to student learning, student-service combines these two valuable attributes. This gives students practical knowledge while incorporating the value of community service. The second structure is the Bonner Scholar Program established by the Corella and Bertram Bonner Foundation. It is a service based scholarship program in CELTS. Students usually have labor positions that are directly connected to community service and get the opportunity to serve two summers. The third and final structure of CELTS holds the community service programs. CELTS currently has 7 student-led community service programs: Adopt a Grandparent, Berea Buddies, Berea Teen Mentoring, Habitat for Humanity, Hispanic Outreach Project, One on One Mentoring, and People Who Care. These programs allow students to serve their community and get leadership skills by training for the programs, mentoring others, and also managing the programs themselves. Using this three part structure, CELTS offers “the opportunities for service, outreach, and service-learning, taking place in the immediate Berea/ Madison County community, in the larger Appalachian region and at sites throughout the United States and the world.” (Shouse, 2015, p.1). CELTS as a program serves and makes lasting positive impacts. 

Works Cited

Hoag, W.R., Fortune, J., Gowler, S., Kazura, M., Rivers, K., Roecker, L., & Sawyer, D. (1998, May). The final report of the team on learning through service. 1-34.

Shouse, T. (2015, August). CELTS program manager handbook. 1-6.

Additional Resources

For more information on CELTS today, contact Ashley Cochrane. 

Other Images

Student Mentoring

Adopt a Grandparent

Berea Buddies

Habitat for Humanity

Hunger Hurts Food Drive

Student Being Mentored

Brushy Fork Clean Up

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