Wednesday, September 25, 2013

UNC Pembroke remembers, serves in honor of 9/11

By Dalton Hoffer, NC Campus Compact VISTA at UNC Pembroke

UNC Pembroke volunteers served the community Saturday 14th, 2013 for UNC Pembroke’s 4th Annual 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. Over 100 UNCP students, faculty and staff served at eleven community sites in the Pembroke and Lumberton areas, engaging over 50 community members.

The day started with a remembrance ceremony on the UNCP campus.  The Air Force ROTC color guard opened with the raising of the flag.  Four (4) UNCP students harmonized to sing the national anthem.  Mike Clawson, retired Army Colonel and Program Coordinator UNCP Military and Veteran Services gave an inspiring and motivating message to the on-looking volunteers.  The day of service was led by 18 student site leaders.  Site Leaders and volunteers worked on several different projects including a cleaning along and removing debris from the Lumber River, gardening and repairing garden beds, washing and walking sheltered dogs, cooking and serving homeless citizens, registering walkers and participating in the Hunger Walk and several outdoor maintenance projects.

At the end of the service day, site leaders led a reflection with volunteers at the service sites.  Each volunteer was given a card and asked to write a word that described their day of service experience.  Volunteers listed “awesome”, “inspiring”, “fulfilling” and “tough” as some of the words that described their experience.  Each volunteer shared their word and how that word described their experience.  On the other side of the card volunteers were asked to write their age on 9/11/2001.  Student volunteers shared how the 9/11 events impacted their lives until now.  Sharing volunteer reflections highlighted the importance of day of service. Many students shared that they look forward to new service opportunities and continuing their service at UNC Pembroke.

P.S. A UNCP alum and former student worker in the university's Office of Civic Engagement, Dalton had participated in 9/11 Day of Service events in the past. But as the VISTA and lead coordinator this year, he said, "I had to step up." Dalton implemented several changes including extensive social media advertising and closer collaboration with student site leaders. The leaders, including a number of first years, were identified early in the semester; and they helped with planning, identifying service sites, and recruiting volunteers. Dalton organized meetings and trainings for the leaders, including a session on 9/11 in advance of the day of service, where leaders participated in reflection, tie-dyed leader t-shirts, and prepped for the event. "At the end of the day, I was most impressed with the involvement of the site leaders and their dedication," Dalton says. The experience taught Dalton lessons too, including the importance of being flexible and sharing tasks. "It was overwhelming at times because I put a lot on myself." In future projects, he expects to make delegating to capable students a priority.

Dalton is looking forward to his next project, a one-night retreat with 20 students to design a mentoring program that will support local high schoolers. He'll be working with community partner, Pembroke Housing Authority, and involving some of the same student service leaders that helped with 9/11 Day of Service.