4/27/16 | “Individually we create change; together we make an impact.” That’s the tagline used to promote JWU Serves: A Day of Impact, a new volunteer program co-sponsored by JWU Providence’s office of Student Involvement & Leadership + the Student Government Association (SGA).
For one Saturday, once a year, JWU Serves brings students and staff together to discuss how smaller acts of service collectively create a larger impact, both here on campus and within the Providence community at large.
This year, 41 students, staff and alumni served at 5 sites:
- Audubon Society of Rhode Island
- Federal Hill House
- Partnerships for Providence Parks (General Street Park)
- The Steel Yard
- Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Initial stats from each site show impressive results from the day, including:
- River Watershed: 9 bags worth of trash
- General Street Park: 45+ bins packed for citywide Earth Day cleanup
- The Steel Yard: Cleared yard space to make way for new events
- Federal Hill House: Painted hallways to brighten the building’s entryway
- Audubon Society: Planted new hydrangea bushes
During the post-service reflection hour, students and staff discussed their experiences and favorite moments of the day.
Small Changes, Big Impact
One takeaway was recognizing that change takes time, but you can accomplish a lot when you work together.
It was eye-opening to hear students’ remarks about how decisions we make on campus can impact the greater community. For example, the students and staff who volunteered with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council found a City Burger cup by the riverbank.
Julius Searight '13, #JWUSharkfest winner and chef/founder of Food4Good, a nonprofit company that provides free or reduced meals to individuals in the Providence community, also spoke briefly. (He volunteered at the Steel Yard.)
Julius’ story is a perfect example of how students can connect their life experiences, passions, and skills and commit to serving others in their professional and personal lives.
Students and Staff Reflect
Mary O'Sullivan, Residential Life area coordinator, loved feeling like she made a difference: “We picked up approximately 10 bags’ worth of garbage — we even pulled a large truck tire out of the river! We also saw some local wildlife and the impact the litter had on them. I will definitely be setting up another time to volunteer with them in the future.”
Ray Nuñez, School of Engineering & Design student and JWU Providence SGA president, is extremely proud of his peers: “It was incredible seeing how much of an impact we can have on our community in just one day. I truly believe that this program will set JWU apart as a leading example of service!” (Read Ray’s Campus Herald piece about the event.)
Ready to Get Involved?
If you were not able to participate in #JWUServes, there are so many ways to get involved throughout the year. Stop by the Feinstein Community Service Center on the 1st Floor of the Citizens Bank Center for Student Involvement (CBCSI) and introduce yourself to Assistant Director Meagan Pepper, who will be happy to help you find volunteer opportunities.
ALL PHOTOS: MIKE COHEA