What to Know About CHE (not Che)
By: Emmett Pennington-Guthrie
With no relation to the Argentinian revolutionary of the same name, CHE, or the Center for Humanitarian Engagement, is a force for the University trying to “raise the level of service on our campuses.” 
As David Lopez, executive director of the CHE explained, the CHE came about because of the need for “a center that is focused on service. Some of these students are doing things, many professors are doing things, but it’s really difficult for people to find out about them.” 
Before the CHE came about, there was no central point for services to be organized, which created the motivation for the center to form. Now, the CHE is able to act as a hub for service projects both on and off campus.
Today it stays serving its role as a service hub, and their page on the Walla Walla University website encourages individuals to contact the CHE with any ideas for service projects.
Lopez stated that the CHE regularly has “community partners that are consistently asking [the CHE] to get involved in different things,” indicating that the CHE is very actively functioning to organize projects not only with individuals, but with local organizations. 
What Lopez emphasized is that the CHE “responds to the needs around us.” For example, getting involved with COVID-19 vaccination clinics over the past year and coordinating the volunteers because of a lack of agencies in the area suited to handling the effort. Lopez mentioned that the CHE is still getting requests from clinics for help with volunteers. 
The CHE wants to “see what the community needs,” and be helpful for the students involved, which Lopez explained is a strength for the center because they have a degree of versatility in what they can do. 
Elaborating on how it should affect the students who interact with CHE, Lopez stated that it is his dream “that we would see students connecting to Christ through service… That the focus is on the impact and the opportunities for service to be redefined as a celebration.” 
The CHE has several projects in action around the area, such as the CARE weekends occurring each Saturday at 2 p.m., where the intention is to “help our students connect with our community and engage in service.” 
Eden’s Pantry is another important project of the CHE and a valuable resource for students, as it provides free food right here on campus. Eden’s Pantry is open from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.
The CHE’s biggest program is the Blue Zones Project, which aims to improve health and well-being in the local community by promoting healthy decisions. Lopez described Blue Zones having a program to certify restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, and that they have plans to become a certified employer. 
The Blue Zones website describes activities it has organized such as community walking groups, cooking classes, and purpose workshops. 
Over the past year, the CHE has worked on many programs, although Lopez said that they have also had to adapt to COVID-19. Notably, they have adjusted by moving to smaller scale events that occur more frequently, and they have had to cancel some events entirely. 
COVID-19 was actually the prompt for something called the “Hey Neighbor Neighbor” challenges, which are weekly challenges being offered for individuals to connect with their neighbors and get out of their comfort zones.
Lopez elaborated that COVID-19 created the realization that communities won’t work with services that they do not know, leading the CHE to do something to encourage interconnectedness. 
Even through COVID-19, the CHE still has several upcoming projects planned. On April 24, for instance, there is a Tri-College Community Day involving Whitman and Walla Walla Community College, which will feature activities centered around Earth Day. According to Lopez, the CHE hopes to have “hundreds, if not thousands of trees we can go out to plant.” 
More information about upcoming events is available online at https://www.wallawalla.edu/campus-life/center-for-humanitarian-engagement/.
- About us. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/campus-life/center-for-humanitarian-engagement/about-us/
- Interview with David Lopez, 1/27/2022.
- Activities. (n.d.). Blue Zones Project. https://wallawallavalley.bluezonesproject.com/activity/landing
- Interview with David Lopez, 1/27/2022.
- Eden’s Pantry. While our esteemed author found himself briefly in Meske for COVID-19, he discovered that he had received a gift bag from Eden’s Pantry and felt immensely grateful. If you can, please consider donating food to Eden’s Pantry. Photo by Emmett Pennington-Guthrie. Uploaded on 1/30/2022.