CU’s West Spring Street neighbors, Cal and Danielle Sims purchased Danielle’s dream home, the peach house across the street from the baseball field, in March 2016. They have been welcoming Cumberland University students into their home since 2018.
In 2018, Cumberland alum and Pastor Darrin Reynolds of Immanuel Baptist Church mentioned to the Sims the need for international students to have family support and meals during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, when many local students go home for break. International students do not have this luxury. Local churches, coaches, friends, faculty, and staff graciously open their homes, but some students remain on campus due to individual circumstances.
Pre-Covid, the Sims family, hosted more than 50 students each month for dinner. Each student was welcomed into their home and invited to place a red dot representing their home on the map covering a wall in their house. Ashley Kambeitz, a former CU student-athlete and President of the International Student Organization, helped the Sims family kick-off and organized the international students’ monthly get-togethers.
Each month, students chose a country to spotlight and a meal that corresponds to that country’s cuisine. Previously, they have served Swedish, Kenyan, Argentinian, German, Spanish, and Brazilian food. As part of the event, Cal shares about the country that is being highlighted each month.
It’s comforting for students to know they have a family they can rely on when away from their own families and homes.
“It’s nice to have somewhere to go when you are so far away from home,” said Spanish student and Varsity golf team member Raquel Romero.
“They always open the door for us – when we’re sick, for birthdays, whatever we need, we text them. We go and study there. They’re like a family for us here. They spoil us,” said Gisela Amor Garcia, a Spanish Graduate Assistant.
“Sometimes, kids will call us. Some have had car issues and other problems, and when you don’t know who to contact, that’s really tough. We love having them, and this is like family to us,” Danielle said.
If you are interested in supporting students over the break, please contact Sr. Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations, Courtney Vick, at email@example.com.