The Partnership Between Washington Adventist University and the Center for Social Change, Harmonizing Communities

May 2, 2024

In September 2023, a transformative partnership formed between Washington Adventist University (WAU) and the Center for Social Change (CSC), igniting a collaboration that aims to make an impact on individuals with special needs. This collaboration, rooted in shared values and commitment to service, has already yielded results and promises a future filled with music, joy, and community engagement.

This partnership started when COO Jesse Singh and CEO Sajid Tarar of the Center for Social Change accepted an invitation from mutual friend Elisha Pulivarti to meet with WAU President Dr. Weymouth Spence. Dr. Cheryl Kisunzu, Provost at Washington Adventist University, recalls the moment vividly and said, “During this meeting, the synergy between the two organizations was immediately evident – especially as it pertains to our shared Christocentric commitment to service through which ‘minds are engaged’ and lives are transformed.”

Collaboration between WAU and CSC is not a mere coincidence but rather an alignment of values and missions. WAU’s dedication to being a “Gateway to Service” resonates perfectly with CSC’s mission of supporting individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities, advocating for personal choices, and fostering independence. Dr. Kisunzu emphasizes this alignment, saying, “Through this relationship, the WAU Music Department’s Music Therapy Program collaborates with the Center for Social Change to bring delight, esteem, and dignity to the individuals served at the Center.” Dr. Daniel Lau, WAU Chair of Music, quickly realized the potential and importance of the collaboration, “As WAU has the only Music Therapy program in the State of Maryland, we immediately realized that there was a rich opportunity to align WAU’s mission with the Center for Social Change.”

The Center for Social Change, under the leadership of COO Jesse Singh, has a clear focus and purpose. They support individuals with special needs, advocating for personal choices in community living. The organization is committed to enhancing independence, ensuring rights, and providing various services to contribute to the well-being of the individuals they serve.

Through a range of programs and initiatives, CSC empowers individuals with special needs. Their Residential Support, Vocational Training, Supported Employment, Adult Medical Day Programs, Therapeutic Integration programs, and Volunteering opportunities all play vital roles in fostering independence and inclusivity.

As for the future, the partnership shows no signs of slowing down. Dr. Kisunzu reveals, “In addition to the WAU Music Therapy Programs for ‘individuals’ served through the Center for Social Change, the WAU Music Program will now include a musical performance as part of the Spring and Fall Service Day opportunities for WAU students, faculty, and staff.” Additionally, WAU’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies will offer workforce development sessions to the Center’s staff, further enriching the collaboration.

In conclusion, the partnership between Washington Adventist University and the Center for Social Change is an example of how organizations with shared values and missions can come together to make a positive impact on their communities. Through music, faith, and a commitment to service, this collaboration is harmonizing communities and changing lives for the better.