(Olympia, Wash.) Thirteen community organizations in the South Sound will get a helping hand on September 24 as more than 150 incoming students at The Evergreen State College start their educational experience with a day of volunteer work for community causes. According to Ellen Shortt-Sanchez, director of Evergreen’s Center for Community-Based Learning and Action (CCBLA), projects in the college’s Community to Community Action Day are aligned with Hunger Free Thurston County Coalition’s goal to make our county Hunger Free. Project range from harvesting vegetables from community farms for the local the food bank, to restoring salmon habitat and building low income housing. Students will ride InterCity transit buses, bikes and college vans to local sites to pitch in and help for the afternoon before they get settled at college.
“Evergreen has a rich tradition of contributions to the local community,” explained Shortt-Sanchez. “Community to Community Action Day has been connecting Evergreen students to local groups working for community needs for 18 years. The event provides a community service – it’s expected to provide more than 1000 hours of service this year alone – and a learning experience for students new to the college. They get to know their community, understand its needs a little better and reflect on the positive contributions they can make.”
Students from Evergreen’s Community Connections college transition program will be participating in Community to Community Action Day as a required part of their coursework. Academic programs are supported to integrate service learning by a grant from Learn and Serve.
“The organizers of Community Connections have been working closely with the CCBLA on this event,” explained Evergreen faculty member Elizabeth Williamson. “We feel that helping students make a connection to the world beyond the campus is absolutely essential to helping them begin to put theory into practice, and we hope it will set an important precedent for them as they continue their work at Evergreen.”
Campus housing residents from Evergreen’s Green Living and Sustainability House – who choose to live with other students dedicated to helping their community and living sustainably – will participate as well.
Shortt-Sanchez said that, in addition to a wide range of student volunteer activities, during the last academic year Evergreen students contributed over 19,000 hours of community work through the Students in Service Americorps program. Students in Service is a program of the Washington Campus Compact. Community minded student workers receive tuition awards as recognition for community action. This provides the chance for students to integrate their studies with community service and to be compensated.
Community members are welcome to work alongside Evergreen students on Community to Community Action Day. For more information on volunteering, contact Ellen Shortt-Sanchez at 360-867-6859 by Monday Sept 22, 2008.