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By participating in community service, students at Walla Walla University find a chance to break out of their routines and get involved within the community.
WWU Community Service Coordinator Ellie Veverka helps to organize one big service event during each academic semester. Fall Service Day is set up specifically for WWU students, and Spring Service Day brings together volunteers from WWU, Whitman and Walla Walla Community College.
Veverka begins calling local agencies during the summer to line up service day projects. After that, she and her office staff publicize each event on campus and online. She also coordinates with the church staff to prepare a free breakfast and lunch for all WWU student volunteers.
Fall Service Day 2013 took place on Wednesday, Oct. 16. To make it easier for students to participate, all WWU classes before 2 p.m. were canceled for the day.
Service day participants could choose from 40 different service projects. These projects included rebuilding water stations at Mill Creek, cleaning up Pioneer Park and helping administer vision tests at Davis Elementary School in College Place. Other agencies involved were the Blue Mountain Humane Society, the YMCA and Country Estates Housing Community.
Veverka believes that student volunteers are extremely important to the local agencies and individuals they serve.
“The community agencies and elderly residents count on student groups each year. It really saves them money when they don’t have to hire someone to do the work,” she said.
Working on a project often gives students valuable opportunities as well.
“Sometimes students can connect to the agency they volunteered with and continue to volunteer there throughout the entire year,” said Veverka. “It’s a good connection all around.”
Students at Whitman College have gained valuable experiences by working together with Walla Walla University students in various community-oriented activities.
Whitman junior Nicholas Win gained a better sense of the greater Walla Walla community when he participated in Spring Service Day 2013 along with WWU and WWCC students. Together, these students helped clean houses for members of the community who are unable to do so alone.
“[It was a] great opportunity to learn the cultures of other schools in the area, in addition to those in need in Walla Walla,” said Win.
Win saw WWU volunteers engaging with their faith while they worked for local agencies and residents.
“The WWU students I met seemed devoted to what they believe in. [They] carefully and thoughtfully performed mundane tasks [and] prayed before service began,” said Win.
In addition to providing him with an opportunity to get to know other students, community service helped Win to see beyond his typical environment and to think more about the ways in which he could engage with locals.
“[It] reminded me how … [bad] it is just a couple blocks off campus –– made me want to … actually do something about it during my one-class days,” said Win. “[It] definitely made me feel like I transcended the Whitman bubble.”