This story is part of an on-going series spotlighting student-run clubs at FIU.
The passion and commitment behind Nashua Wisdom’s drive to help others stems from a simple fact: she’s always been helped herself, and now she hopes to pay it forward.
“I’ve been served so I can serve others. It’s really cool to give back, even in a small way,” Wisdom says. “My hope and my prayer is that people will be transformed by being loved.”
In the fall of 2012, Wisdom helped form the Students for the Poor Club at FIU. Under the national non-profit organization Food for the Poor, the FIU chapter provides opportunities for its members to raise awareness and provide support for the poor through various service projects and volunteer efforts.
Not only does the work done by the club benefit those they are seeking to help, but also the members of the club doing the serving.
“When leaders understand how to serve, they become better leaders,” says Wisdom, the club’s president and a senior biology major. “It’s a long and challenging process but it’s worth it.”
Local and global impact
Between volunteering at Camillus House in downtown Miami serving lunches and dinner to the homeless and stocking the shelves of FIU’s recently launched Food Pantry, the club has cultivated a culture of service at FIU and in Miami. In a short period of time, the organization has grown to 15 members.
Club members also have their sights set on making a difference across borders.
In late April, nine of the club’s members partnered with alternative Breaks and traveled to a small mountain town in Nicaragua called Los Fierros. During their weeklong trip, the group promoted educational awareness and taught English, math, and science to the town’s children.
The experience left a lasting impression on Wisdom and Magali Gabriel, the club’s treasurer. They bonded with the town’s children, who developed an appreciation for education. Some of the children even expressed an interest in going to college one day.
“We were able to set an example for them and that was awesome,” says Gabriel, a junior hospitality and tourism major. “Anything that I did will hopefully have a ripple effect… the kids and the families will hopefully do the same for others as well.”
Wisdom adds, “The trip taught me to be grateful. I really have nothing to complain about. It gave us a more realistic picture of the world and it made things real. We know there is a need. Now how can we meet the need?”
Learning to serve
Wisdom and the club’s other members have made it their mission to seek ways to not only serve the surrounding community, but to do so effectively. They’ve collaborated with organizations, such as the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and Alternative Breaks, for a number of different service and awareness projects.
“I’m still learning that it’s about serving in a way that allows people we serve to take responsibility for the outcome. It’s not just about meeting their short-term needs but their long-term needs as well,” Wisdom says.
For her, listening to the people the club serves provides a valuable perspective on what those needs are and how to properly address them.
“Everyone has a story,” she says. “There are a lot of hardworking people out there and sometimes it doesn’t pan out for them in the moment, but they are still diligent and trying their best. That determination is cool to see and it’s very motivating.”
The Student Organizations Council-Biscayne Bay Campus recognized the club for their efforts at their annual Leadership Awards Banquet in April, honoring the club with the award for best community service. In 2013, the club had been awarded the distinction of best new organization.
Both awards have motivated Wisdom and her fellow club members to step up their efforts. Moving forward, the club hopes to expand its membership and its impact here at home and abroad.
“Our mindset is now that we’ve gotten these awards, how do we live up to that?” Wisdom says. “We want to continue to make people proud to serve.”
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