SAO names The Welcome Table community partner

SAO names The Welcome Table community partner
The Welcome Table in Vermillion has been named the November featured community partner by the Student Action Office (SAO) at The University of South Dakota.

The Welcome Table provides a free community meal served every Monday night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Vermillion. The featured community partner award is designed to make students more aware of local service opportunities by highlighting an organization's mission, service provided and volunteer opportunities available.�

According to AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Matt Ernst, who works in the SAO, the Welcome Table was chosen for this award for its important contributions to the community and its strong connection to the campus.

"Over the last year The Welcome Table has accepted roughly 150 USD students who are looking for service-learning and community service opportunities. Not only do they simply provide a service opportunity, but they provide a quality service experience for the students. The Welcome Table allows the students to learn leadership and group-building skills as well as experience the great atmosphere of community spirit that is present there.

"It is also a great place for USD students to meet people in Vermillion besides those people they see everyday on campus," Ernst said.

John Lushbough, a core team member of The Welcome Table, expressed his gratitude towards students at USD.

"During the school year over half of the groups that volunteer to prepare and serve a meal are student groups. There is a special atmosphere that is created when student groups serve. I think our elderly guests really enjoy the youthfulness of the students," Lushbough said.

In addition to the weekly supper, The Welcome Table also has special events throughout the year. At the beginning of the school year they organize a school supplies collection for parents who sign up their children. In the fall, The Welcome Table supporters allow people to sign up to receive a coupon from Wal-Mart that can be used to buy winter clothing.

"It is a good feeling knowing that we are meeting a need, but we couldn't be successful without all of the volunteers who donate their time to The Welcome Table. And we certainly couldn't be successful without the funding we receive from the United Way of Vermillion," Lushbough said.

For more information about The Welcome Table, go to or call John Lushbough at 624-4159. Groups interested in serving should contact Jacquie Lonning at 677-6338 or

The Student Action Office is the academic engagement center at USD. It is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, based in Washington, DC and the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education, based in Lincoln, NE.

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