Warren Wilson College is a one-of-a-kind institution throughout the year. Yet there are a few days each year that further set the College apart. One such day is Warren Wilson’s annual Service Day, the highlight of Orientation for new students each August.
This year, more than 350 Warren Wilson students, faculty and staff dispersed from campus to 22 partner locations across Buncombe County, N.C. Their primary mission: to get to know the greater community better by helping the greater community, something that has been the Warren Wilson way for longer than anyone can remember.
With hunger a chronic issue in Asheville and Western North Carolina, the 2014 Service Day focused on food security for the fifth consecutive year. Among the 22 sites in Asheville, Swannanoa and Black Mountain were school gardens and programs, community gardens and food banks. Each of these College partners continues to do its part to help combat the serious problem of hunger in Buncombe County and the region.
As usual, Service Day started on the Warren Wilson campus with a continental breakfast at Morris’ Community Pavilion. After hundreds of purple shirts (this year’s designated T-shirt color) gathered to music pulsating from the pavilion – OK, enough alliteration – Dean of Service Cathy Kramer intoned over the sound system: “Good morning! Are you ready for service?” The answer was obvious, as groups of at least 15 readied to ride out to the 22 work sites.
As fate would have it, the temperature on Service Day soared to 90 degrees for the first time all summer in Asheville. But not a problem, especially since afternoon storms never kicked in and the dry weather allowed for plenty of work to be accomplished. What kind of work? Mulching, weeding, planting, sorting, fence building, roof repair… well, you get the picture.
One of the many Service Day sites was the Black Mountain Home for Children, Youth & Families, a longtime WWC partner formerly known as the Presbyterian Home for Children. According to its website, Black Mountain Home “serves children from birth through college graduation who have been abused, abandoned or neglected.”
History/political science professor Dongping Han led his First Year Seminar students in a variety of tasks in the Black Mountain Home garden, located on a beautiful patch of land. In addition to the worthwhile work, Han noted that the Service Day work provides his students and him with “a good way to get to know each other better.”
At day’s end all the groups returned to the pavilion for a reflection program that, lest we forget, also included ice cream on a hot August day. As everyone cooled off, WWC President Steve Solnick nicely summed up what the day was all about:
“One thing that happens when you move to a new place is you meet your new neighbors. And your neighbors were thrilled to meet you today.”