The class of 2021 worked hard before the start of the school year at Guilford


Abigail Bekele

Audrey Helfenbein ‘21 helps out at HorseFriends, one of the service sites during Guilford’s Day of Service. Each student in the first-year class participated at different sites all throughout Greensboro.// Photos by Abigail Bekele/The Guilfordian

370 students. 18 volunteer sites. Five hours.

During Guilford College’s fourth annual Day of Service, the school logged over 1,110 service hours. All first-year Guilford students participated in the event, volunteering with their First Year Experience and First Year Seminar classes. Service projects ranged from cleaning tack and washing horses at HorseFriends to packaging meals in the Guilford cafeteria.

“(Day of Service) is a good way for us to give back and also expose (…) important work that needs to be done,” said Timothy Johnson, interim director for the office of student leadership & engagement. Johnson was in charge of organizing this year’s event, and was also involved last year.

Last year, all grades were involved in Day of Service, however, this year the focus of the event was shifted toward first-year students.

“We decided to focus on first-years to build community with the first-year students,” said President of Guilford College Jane Fernandes. “(We want) to help them connect with their FYE classes and start to work on what their passion for service will be.

“All Guilford students should graduate with a passion for service.”

Several students echoed Fernandes’ passion for the event.

“I’m actually really excited to be working in here because I like the behind the scenes,” said first-year Mei Lander, who packaged lunches in Guilford’s dining hall. “We’re boxing lunches for an organization that helps provide shelter and a safe place for people who are homeless.”

Director of Dining Zeb Knight expressed a similar sentiment, “I just think it’s a really good initiative. It’s everybody’s job to build that culture (of service) early, not to mention it’s for a good cause.”

Students volunteering at HorseFriends, a therapeutic riding center in Reidsville, were also enthusiastic about Day of Service.

“It’s a good time,” said first-year John Ellis. “I’d definitely do it again.”

At HorseFriends, Guilford students helped by cleaning, washing and grooming horses and cleaning the inside of a barn. HorseFriends is a Christian ministry that assists people with disabilities by providing them free riding lessons.

“One of the reasons a horse is so helpful is because … (a horse’s walking) replicates the closest to an actual person walking,” said Donna Steinbech, a riding instructor and board member at HorseFriends. “(A horse) stimulates all of the nerves in the body that hit centers for your brain … talking, motor skills … that’s one of the physical benefits.

“We have our upcoming horse show in October and it’s a fundraiser. Just having the manpower to serve and help us out is tremendous.”

Guilford students also made a difference at Summerfield Farms, a multi-enterprise farm that grows niche and heirloom products such as pear tomatoes and cucamelons.

“This time of year for any farmer, you’re so swamped with work that this is a big breather for me,” said Garden Manager Stephen Mundy, who has been with the farm for two years. “(The students are) able to be a part of the process and learn and operate and work together.”

First-year student Maya Chevalier found that the experience allowed her class to work together: “I think it’s a good bonding experience with our group. We get to talk and connect with each other.”

In order for students to help these organizations, work had to be put into organizing the Day of Service event.

Kristen Poteat, the graduate assistant at Guilford, was one of the faculty members involved in organizing.

“I actually jumped into a role that was previously … done by … the graduate assistant before I came in,” said Poteat. “I basically just picked up right where they left off in the summer: contacting sites, making sure we have supplies. … Just general logistics (and) making sure it runs smoothly.”

James Shields, the director of community learning with the Bonner program, helped to coordinate the volunteering by connecting Guilford with various volunteer sites.

“(Day of Service) kind of serves as a taste of service,” Shields said. “We want (students) to come by the Bonner house and sign up and do more.”

Through both the Bonner Center and the greater Guilford community, there will be many service opportunities that Guilford students can participate in throughout the course of the year.

“It’s my belief that service is fundamental to Guilford College education and the College’s commitment to the community,” said Jane Fernandes.

It is clear that Guilford students develop a passion for service throughout their time at the College. With one of Guilford’s core values being community, the only question is: how will students help the community next?