Catching the Volunteer Bug

On Friday, September 19th, only days before classes began, UWT students turned out to support their community at the United Way’s Day of Caring. Although only half of those registered made it, those who came were enthusiastic and ready to go.

We met at Carwein Auditorium, briefed on what we would be doing, and received information about the organizations we would be serving. The organizations we were assigned were the Salvation Army, Men’s Shelter, Tacoma Community House, and Mentor House.

Our group arrived at Mentor House, a facility on 30 acres. Executive Director Charity Woolbright was there to greet us along with some of her staff. She explained the vision of Mentor House was to reach out to young adults, such as those aging out of the foster care system, coming out of incarceration, or those who are exiting a destructive lifestyle. Mentor House will provide viable job skills, job readiness training, and assist these young adults in locating employment in our community. They hope to be up-and-running and able to accept residents by November of this year.

Our group was divided. Some volunteers sorted and organized donated office supplies, equipment, and the dorm-style rooms, while some helped out in the blueberry patch, weeding and cleaning up the area. Others worked in the greenhouse and in the wood and machine shop on site. The final group assisted inside the building, distributing donated goods and setting up the dorm-style rooms.

I worked in the greenhouses with about four other students. They had grown over inside with weeds that were up to three feet tall. We cleaned out all the weeds and used some provided twine to tie down the plastic for protection against wind storms.

Although our turnout was about 50 percent of those who signed up, the groups we had at all the locations gave a valiant performance. UWT was well-represented, and definitely did the University proud. The group at the Tacoma Community House even scheduled to return again on Sunday, September 21st to complete the painting they had been assigned. It was a wonderful feeling, seeing these young people sacrificing their last weekend prior to classes commencing.

There will be many more opportunities to volunteer. So, if you missed the United Way Day of Caring, or you just really enjoyed the experience, contact Volunteer Services at vsuwt@uw.edu. The next scheduled event is Saturday, October 7th. It is the seventh annual Green Tacoma Day and volunteers will be removing invasive species from local wetlands.

Giving back to our community turned out to be a great way to get to know fellow students and feel a sense of connection. I heard several students say they couldn’t wait for the next volunteer opportunity to come along. Investing in these amazing organizations allows us all to be a part of positive change in our communities!

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