Friday, September 7, 2012

Hands on Hickory puts Lenoir-Rhyne frosh to work!

When most young people head off to college, they don't expect to spend their first days on campus doing yard work, painting park benches, and playing Bingo with folks at a retirement home. But that is exactly what incoming first years and transfer students at Lenoir-Rhyne University do during "Hands on Hickory," the school's annual orientation service event.

LR students helping out at the YMCA at Hands On Hickory

On August 18th, 360 new LR students and 35 faculty and staff volunteered at 19 sites in the Hickory community. The students, organized in groups according to their First Year Experience class, worked at a local site during the Saturday morning event. Associate Dean of Engaged and Global Learning Charlotte Williams says, "Hands on Hickory is a great way to introduce new students to the concept of community engagement and to needs in our area. We hope this experience is a springboard for service during their time at LR."

During their three-hour tour, students completed projects at community organizations like the Flynn House, Centro Latino of Hickory, and Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM). ECCCM Executive Director Rev. Robert C. Silber was very satisfied with the volunteers' work, stating it was "great working with the LR students - again." Other partners described the students as diligent and pro-active; together, students volunteered 987 hours of service. As the First Year Experience classes continue to meet throughout the year, many will return to their Hands on Hickory service sites for additional service projects.

Like the student volunteers whose efforts she organized, Ariel Mitchell had just arrived on campus in a new role, starting her service as LR's new AmeriCorps*VISTA a week before the event. Ariel's successful coordination of the day's community placements built on the planning of her VISTA predecessor, Saarah Abdul-Rauf, who currently serves as the NC Campus Compact VISTA at UNC Chapel Hill. So, along with being a great experience for student volunteers and community partners, the Hands on Hickory event is also an example of successfully transitioning VISTA work!