On April 24, 146 students from Whitman, Walla Walla Community College and Walla Walla University came together to support 15 local organizations during Tri-College’s Community Service Day.
The event began at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony at the Fort Walla Walla Museum. Volunteers then split into groups and traveled to different locations to work with the organization of their choice. The day ended with a reflection and lunch around noon.
Julia Hess and Jackie Jones, interns from the Senior Community and Career Engagement Center (CCEC), helped organize and participated in the day of service. Hess is the student leader for K-12 Educational Partnerships and Jones is the student leader for Community and Nonprofit Partnerships. Whitman’s part of the planning process was spearheaded by CECC’s Assistant Director for Community Engagement Abby Juhasz.
Jones helped maintain the trails for the Rempel Nature Trail in tandem with the local Audubon Society chapter, where volunteers spread bark on a busy trail.
“It was really fun to see so many students and the weather was great. It was all very connected and unifying, which was really cool,” Jones said.
Freshman Zoe Perkins heard about the day of service through the student mailing list and volunteered for the street of hope Planting day. Volunteers plant potted plants to sell at a fundraiser for women struggling with substance abuse. The fundraiser will take place on May 6 and 7.
“I really like planting things, but I don’t have the opportunity to do so. So being outside and meeting a bunch of new people was really great. I would say that I befriended someone [from another college]which was fun,” Perkins said.
Freshman Sasha Morgan volunteered at the Blue Mountain Therapeutic Riding Centerwhich offers equine-assisted activities and therapy to people with disabilities in the community.
“The main thing we did was sort out some things they had lying around, like old hardware and wood, and after that they let us groom some of the therapy horses, which was really cool,” Morgan said. “[My friends and I] all of them did something with horses in high school, so it was fun to spend that time with them, and also to meet people from other schools.
Morgan and Perkins said they would participate in the service day again and hoped more Whitman students would participate in the future.
“I feel like as a school we don’t do a great job of meeting people from other colleges [in Walla Walla]and that’s a really cool way to do it…everything was super well managed and put together,” Morgan said.
Whitman students often bring up the idea of the “Whitman bubble” and the insular nature of the school. A lot of students volunteer to get out of the bubble and get involved in the greater Walla Walla community.
“We had a good number of students from Whitman, but I wish there were more. I feel like Whitman has earned that reputation in other schools and in [Walla Walla] to not really care about the community, and I think that’s for a number of reasons, but we could help challenge [that perception] if we volunteered more,” Perkins said.