Community unites around local projects


Fernando Jimenez

Day of Service volunteers gather outside of Oakwood Forest Community Center. Volunteers cleaned and organized school supplies.

It is 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and there are already dozens of Guilford students gathered outside Founders Hall ready to tutor, bake some cakes and get their hands dirty.

On Sept. 12, the Bonner Center and the Office for Student Leadership and Engagement hosted the Guilford Day of Service.

The Day of Service allows Guilfordians to experience community service on a deeper level than serving in a soup kitchen or picking up trash from a park. Many of the sites provided training so the students understood the kind of service they were doing.

“Community service isn’t as easy as just going out and serving for a few hours,” said sophomore and Bonner High Impact Intern Sav Dew. “Community service is what makes the world go round. We can’t run communities on our own.”

Starting this summer, students, faculty and staff have been working together to create a meaningful service experience.

“If you’re doing it to just do it, there’s not really a point behind it,” said Dew.

Several students went off campus to tutor at Elimu Empowerment Services, a mentoring site for African refugees.

“It’s good for them to give back while they’re so young,” said junior and Elimu project coordinator Zachary Lindsey about the Elimu students, many of whom volunteer at Guilford-affiliated sites.

Other Guilfordians cleaned community sites like Ashton Woods and Rosewood.

Though many of the volunteers at Ashton Woods had never done this kind of service before, the site leaders were pleasantly surprised.

“All (the volunteers) dove into it, and that was really cool,” said senior and Ashton Woods project coordinator Emmanuel Williams. “It was all hands on deck.”

At Rosewood, a community site that deals mainly with Montagnard refugees, students dealt with relentless plants.

“We plucked weeds and poison ivy, and we cleaned up classrooms,” said sophomore Hidania Ubaldo De Pena “It was painful, (but) it was really fun.”

On campus, several students worked with plant life, as well. Volunteers came back from the Guilford farm with baskets full of green tomatoes.

“We did a little harvesting, (and we) ripped up some tomato plants,” said senior and Hunger Fellow Marek Wojtala.

“It was a really rewarding experience. It was awesome to get that many people out on the farm.”

For Wojtala, this was a great way to show students where their food comes from.

“We’ve lost our connection to our food,” said Wojtala. “This is a really awesome way for people to meet their food, so to speak.”

Some sites, such as the Community AIDS Awareness Project and Church Under the Bridge, joined forces.

“We made two delicious cakes,” said CUB project coordinator Connor Pruitt. “It’s been a really great experience.”

CUB celebrated its third birthday last Saturday.

“The site’s been around for three years, and cakes are kind of an icon of progress,” said Pruitt. “Another year down.”

With 25 service sites, around 80 community scholars and endless volunteer opportunities, the hope is that the Day of Service is just the beginning.

To volunteer, stop by the Bonner House or contact the Bonner Center Director James Shields.