Profiles in Radical Hospitality

Hi!  Shea here. *Waving.*  Here’s another Profile in Radical Hospitality, this one written by Allison  Schoeppner.  Allison is a regular at Thursday Supper and Interfaith Impact, and is on our White House Interfaith Challenge Steering Committee as well.

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I grew up in Athens and as a freshman I had a difficult time meeting people I could relate to and feeling a sense of belonging, which is why stumbling across UCM this year has been such a blessing. I first found out about UCM through the Better Together campaign and from that I began attending Thursday Supper and Interfaith Impact every week. What I love most about all of these activities is the openness of the people involved, everyone is friendly and easy to talk to. Not to mention, UCM focuses around the idea of being radically inclusive which exposes you to so many different types of people. The great thing about all of these people coming together at UCM is that although we may come from different backgrounds and have different opinions we can relate around the belief that all people/religions should be accepted. I feel that I have found a certain sense of belonging at UCM mainly because I feel like I will be accepted no matter what which is a fantastic feeling I can only describe is as being similar to belonging to a family.


Profiles in Radical Hospitality

Hi all!  Shea here.  *Waving.*  This week’s post is a continuation of our Profiles in Radical Hospitality written by Alice Ragland, an OU student and another regular volunteer at UCM’s Free Meal’s program. 

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The world is a circle
Continuous and connective;
The whole thing will malfunction
If one part is ineffective.
Nobody can eat
If somebody is famished;
No justice can exist
If in one place it has vanished.
No one can be warm
If somebody is cold;
Nothing can glitter
If ALL of it is not gold.
If one school is in shambles,
Another cannot be effective;
If the top is corrupt,
The whole structure is defective.
No river can be clean
If one is polluted;
These problems must be solved,
They cannot be diluted.
The world is not a series of disconnected points
But a continuous place, where each of its joints
Connects with another, no matter how far apart.
What appears at the end re-appears at the start.
For the world is a circle,
 Continuous and connective.
The whole thing will malfunction
If one part is ineffective.
–Alice Ragland

Profiles in Radical Hospitality

Hi there!  Shea here.  *Waving.*  As part of our Better Together at OU blog, we’re going to be posting pieces written by folks who spend time at UCM programming related to the White House Interfaith Challenge.  UCM runs on the idea of Radical Hospitality, which means we accept everyone who walks through our doors no questions asked.  In large part because of the vibe this creates there’s lots of interesting people at UCM involved in lots of interesting things.  I thought you might like to meet some of them and learn about their views of UCM, faith, life, and other stuff.  I’ve been asking around for blog posts, so here’s the first one I received.  Today’s post is by Kavin Shah, an OU student and regular volunteer at Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch and participant at Interfaith Impact.

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Hello. My name is Kavin Shah and I am a lifetime member of the Clean Plate Club. This is my first year being involved with UCM and I’ve already had some of the best times of my 4 years here. I love the opportunities it provides for me to become a bigger part of what I now define as my community. Athens is no longer just a transient residence where my college is, it has become a home.  I am currently a senior studying psychology and women’s studies at OU and there is no better place where I can apply what I learn in school to form closer relationships with my community members than at UCM. Sometimes I like to clean and wash dishes but my favorite duties so far include: taking Wanda home, hugging Richard, Gerry’s stories, and listening to Frances say the word “honey”. I also enjoy pulling knotweed, petting dogs, and interfaith impact. I plan on spending as much time here as I can so if you haven’t been by this year come say hi Thursday 5:30 or Saturday 1:00 and we can share a meal!



No Label Required

Today’s post is from Rachel Hyden, Campus Organizer for Ohio University’s Better Together Campaign. 

For the majority of my life I have had no religious identity. As a child my parents never took me to church, and through high school I never much spoke of religion. It wasn’t until college that I really started questioning my beliefs­– not only the basic questions like where I came from, what my purpose is, and if there is a God, but questioning where I fit in. I knew I was a moral person- I believed in equity, I believed in peace, and I believed in doing what was best for this planet and the people on it. But I didn’t know where I fit in. Was there a religious community out there for somebody like me?  Someone who doesn’t identify with a religion, but instead lives a life based on the common morals and ethics you would find in most religious codes? What do you call somebody like me?
What I’ve come to realize through my interfaith organizing is this­– I don’t need a label to fit in. My morals and my values are my religion, and I am finally comfortable with the lack of title. It wasn’t easy getting to this point­– for so long I craved to believe in a recognized religion. But I don’t need the label to fit into this community, this interfaith community. And here at Ohio University, this interfaith community is really starting to grow.
On September 11, over 350 OU and Athens community members gathered for an Interfaith Peace Walk. With so many faith traditions represented, it was utterly breathtaking to see the diversity intertwining through the crowd. Labels and no labels, we were a community walking as one. And despite our differences, we stood side by side for our shared belief in peace. There are few words that can truly describe the moment when I felt the sense of belonging that I had been yearning for. It was incredible.
While the Peace Walk was a moment that will stay with me for a lifetime, I know there are many more to come. Better Together at Ohio University will be working this year to raise $5,000 to build a well in a developing nation. If that goal is reached and we can successfully give a community access to clean and safe drinking water, I know that moment will change me forever. With just one year of interfaith organizing, we have the potential to save someone’s life. Imagine what we could do with ten?

The White House Interfaith Challenge

Hi!  *Waving.*  My name is Shea Daniels.  Welcome to the Better Together at Ohio University Blog!  This week I’d like to tell you about the White House Interfaith Challenge, mostly because I’m really really excited about it.  Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll be excited about it, too!

The White House Interfaith Challenge is a super-cool initiative that Ohio University is part of.  It’s a service based challenge focused on interfaith cooperation.  Let’s break those sentences down a little bit further, because it seems to me that there’s two really important ideas being communicated, and I want to make sure you end up just as excited about them as I am.

Idea 1: The White House Interfaith Challenge is service based.  Colleges who are part of the challenge, like Ohio University in Athens, choose two issues to focus that service around, one domestic and one international.  Here at Ohio University we’ve chosen Domestic Poverty and Food Insecurity (this is what I’m working on) as well as International Water Security (initiative run by Rachel Hyden).  Students and community members are banning together to serve hot, yummy, healthy free meals twice a week (domestic poverty / food insecurity) while raising money to build at least one well in Africa (international water security).  And we’re having a blast!

Idea 2: This is an Interfaith challenge.  What does Interfaith mean?  Semantically, let’s visit our good friend Webster.  According to Webster, Interfaith means “involving persons of different religious faiths.”  This is a really good definition but I would like to challenge Mr. Webster on one point…Interfaith work is for folks of all and no faith traditions, so folks who are atheists, agnostic, or don’t know what they are, are as welcome as folks who are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or Wiccan.  Lots of people involved in our Interfaith challenge don’t claim any religious tradition.  Lots of people involved in our Interfaith challenge are devout followers of a religion.  And we’re all working together, because that’s the point.  Even if we don’t agree on everything we agree it is more productive to build a well in Africa than to argue about religious differences.

So, that’s the White House Interfaith Service Challenge in a nutshell.  Interested in getting involved?  Yay!  Email  Rachel at for more informational about the International Water Security initiative, or if you want to join our Steering Committee.  If you’re interested in Domestic Poverty and Food Insecurity you can email me, Shea, at, or just show up at UCM’s Free Meals Program (Thursday 5:30, Saturday 1PM). 

So, once again, I’m Shea.  *Waving.*  Welcome to Better Together at Ohio University’s blog.  Stay tuned in coming weeks for all kinds of interesting posts from all kinds of people.  We’ll be talking about Interfaith work, about the service we’re doing, and about what it means to us.  Because we’re pretty sure that we’re better together than we are divided, and we’re pretty sure we can positively impact the world through the service we’re doing.