by James Sica
The Case Western Reserve Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Teams has been named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Community Service Team. CWRU earned the recognition for their work during their winter training trip in South Florida, where they worked with a local nonprofit that helps provide food to those in the community who need it.
Feeding South Florida is the only Feeding America food bank that serves Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.There are over 785,040 food insecure individuals in South Florida, of which 25% are served by Feeding South Florida.
Selena Mufti, a junior Mechanical Engineering major on the team, noted how the service project was a way for the team to give back to a region that annually hosts so many college teams. “Every year countless teams go down there for training trips,” she commented. “...Taking a few hours out of our day to volunteer and give something back is the very least we can do as a thank you to the region for hosting us and so many other teams each winter.”
Mufti also noted how the service project gave the team some much needed perspective during one of the toughest training phases of the year. “As a team, not only is it a fun activity that makes for excellent team-building, but it also really gives us an opportunity to center ourselves and put things back in perspective. Being tired and sore is an integral part of any training trip, and people can sometimes get consumed in that, but the project really helps to remind us that there are much worse things than being tired and sore.”
Head Coach Doug Milliken reiterated that point, stating that the project, which they have done for the past three years, helps provide some perspective for his team. "We decided as a team it was important to give something back to the local community,” he said. “At CWRU, we are lucky to be at such a prestigious institution and we recognize there are others in need of help and we are happy to provide a helping hand in any way we can."
Charlotte VanDyken, the Volunteer Coordinator for the organization, noted the tremendous impact the team was able to have in a single afternoon: "The students did a wonderful job yesterday and sorted 23,245 pounds of food which in turn provided 19,520 meals to those in need! As you can see, this work is vital to our organization and we thank you and the students for contributing in this way."
Feeding South Florida is part of the wider organization Feeding America, which is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. Feeding America operates over 200 food banks throughout the United States and is ranked as the fourth largest domestic nonprofit that boasts a 98% of donations remaining in the community.
While the Case Western swimmers are pushing themselves in the pool, they don’t limit their work ethic to just workouts. Mufti reflects that her favorite part of the project is learning how much her and her teammates accomplished throughout the afternoon. “A lot of people don’t realize the sheer amount of work 60 athletes can get done in an afternoon,” she said. “Hearing this kind of feedback each year lets us know that we are making a real impact in the community, which is what the project is all about.”