Center for Civic Engagement braces for more community engagement experiences – WSU Insider

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Now that places like seniors’ centers, public schools, museums and parks are gradually scaling up operations, Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement is bracing for increased learning opportunities. by the service for students.

He’s already hiring more student staff to serve as project managers in the fall, when volunteer opportunities are at their peak. This is just one example of the many ways WSU campuses work to provide students with more in-person experiences.

Ben Calabretta, Associate Director of CCE, said it was an exciting time for students looking for more opportunities to engage with their communities.

“At WSU, there is a culture of service,” Calabretta said. “One of the first instincts of students when the pandemic hit was to ask how they can help their communities.”

“Helping communities to become stronger”

As an office with a mission to help Washington State University students enter the service learning community, CCE has faced unique challenges and unexpected opportunities. during the pandemic.

“Once we realized this was going to be a long-term situation, we talked about wanting to be part of the solution instead of just waiting for the pandemic to end,” Calabretta said. “We wanted to help communities become stronger. “

The CCE has helped students virtually volunteer during the pandemic, but with warmer weather and increased vaccine distribution, it aims to bring more students safely to their communities. There will be plenty of opportunities to do so as part of National Virtual Volunteer Week April 19-23, which includes Earth Day on April 22.

CCE-led projects will include trail maintenance at the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, hosting virtual tours of museums for area seniors, painting and shelving assembly at the Inland Oasis Food Pantry. and setting up projects and exhibits at the Palouse Discovery Science Center. A full list of available projects is available on the CCE GivePulse website.

“We are launching a call to action for students to get involved to have a positive impact in their community and for a cause close to their hearts,” said Tiffanie Braun, Deputy Director of the CCE. “There is a wide variety of ways to do this both in person and across the state. “

Obtain an “outside point of view”

Matt Wyatt, senior at WSU Global Campus, had no idea he would have a huge impact on children and his community when he enrolled in Professor Mary Stohr’s criminal justice course on violence against women. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Stohr felt it was important to maintain the service learning requirement for his class even if his students were unable to find a volunteer opportunity related to the content of the course. Classes. She worked with CCE to make it happen.

“Criminal justice isn’t just about protecting people and catching criminals, it’s also about providing services to the public,” Stohr said. “It’s good for our students to have experiences that open their eyes to the different needs of communities across the state. “

Wyatt found a service learning project with Camp Korey through CCE. Camp Korey is located near Mount Vernon, Washington, and works to empower children living with serious health issues and their families. The project called for volunteers to assemble some craft kits for the camp participants.

Wyatt set a goal of making 5 craft kits, before quickly making 15. The next morning, he posted the project on Facebook, asking if anyone else would like to get involved.

People from all over the world responded. Kits have been dropped off at Wyatt’s house in the countryside of Waitsburg, Wash. From places like Los Angeles and Australia. A woman in Florida sent money. Wyatt’s friends filled their car with 25 kits and drove 5 hours to drop them off at his house. In total, he collected nearly 500 kits.

Wyatt said the impact of the project on him continues. Shortly after completing the kits, he placed a box outside his church where people can donate and collect food. By the end of 2020, more than five tons of food had filled what is known as the Blessing Box. Recently, someone who heard of Wyatt’s work with Camp Korey shipped 50,000 pounds of fresh food to Waitsburg and asked him to help distribute it to those in need.

“Especially during the pandemic, we’re so egotistical with ‘Woe to me, I’m in this funk, and things aren’t getting back to normal,'” Wyatt said. “The Camp Korey project made me look outside of that perspective and realize that my struggles are pale compared to those other people may be going through. “

It’s stories like Wyatt’s that keep the CCE team energized and excited to provide more service learning opportunities in the months to come.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a WSU Insider series highlighting the cautious and gradual reopening of WSU’s residential campus in Pullman as it prepares for the return to in-person teaching.


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