Kundwa’s spirit of volunteerism has a positive impact on the community | Nebraska today

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Gabin Kundwa saw a problem and thought maybe he could help fix it.

Kundwa, an integrated sciences graduate, CUSP scholar and honors student, was in his sophomore year when he first came into contact with Connection Point, a church and outreach center that borders the east campus of L ‘University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As a class assignment in ALEC 120: Interpersonal Communication, students were asked to complete 20 hours of community service, and Kundwa chose to volunteer in Connection Point’s Open Shelf Pantry.

Long after his 20 hours were satisfied, Kundwa, who came from Rwanda to Nebraska, continued to volunteer.

“I felt like part of the community so I continued,” Kundwa said.

And while volunteering, he got an idea.

The Open Shelf Pantry, which provides food, housewares and clothing to anyone in need, is a subsidiary of the Lincoln Food Bank. these recordings by hand.

With the pantry serving around 120 families a month, Beth Graverholt, pastor of Connection Point, said the notecard system is cumbersome and it takes a little time to register people and write reports.

“In total, the food we distribute affects around 12,000 people a year,” Graverholt said. “(Gabin) looked at the big box of cards and watched us struggle, trying to sort alphabetically and find the right card, and he said, ‘Have you ever thought of putting this on a computer? But I didn’t know how to set it up or how to start, and we didn’t have the funding for it.

“He said, ‘Let me see what I can do. “

Kundwa, who had learned computer programming and web design himself, thought he might be able to help by creating a website that would streamline the admission process for the pantry and generate revenue. one-click reports.

“What motivated me is that I want to use my computer skills for community development,” Kundwa said. “I wonder how can I use this to help people or help my community? And I have these skills, so how can I solve a real problem? “

Kundwa said he had always been service-oriented, that it was part of his upbringing as the oldest child in his family, and part of his future. He plans to go to graduate school for a career in urban planning, in part to help build stronger communities. During the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, Kundwa also found a way to serve the community by collecting unused food from fellow international students in university accommodation and donating it to the mission and connection point of the popular city.

The Connection Point project was also a valuable learning experience for Kundwa as he honed his computer skills outside of the classroom.

“Once when I had to host it, I don’t know what happened, but it crashed all the codes,” Kundwa said. “It was stressful, but it taught me that I should ask for help and that’s okay because it’s something I couldn’t accomplish on my own and I learned a lot. “

He relied on a mentor, Chris Bourke, associate professor of computer science practice in Nebraska, and Schadrack Niyibizi, a friend in Rwanda.

After months of work on the program – and several pitfalls – Kundwa was ready to show the website to Graverholt, who was impressed and excited to integrate the new system into the operation of the pantry.

“It’s much faster and easier to train new volunteers,” Graverholt said. “Digitizing it makes the registration process a lot smoother, and Gabin worked with me to make the system work for us according to our needs.

“The solution he found is brilliant. He saw the problem and solved it because he wanted to help his community.

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