Nearly 350 Warren Wilson College students, faculty and staff started the school year by volunteering at 18 community organizations on Thursday, with many projects centered around issues of food security, education, and the environment.
Collectively, Warren Wilson students, faculty, and staff worked a total of 1,575 hours weeding, mulching, sweeping, mopping, replanting flowers, picking up trash, controlling invasive plants, clearing trails, painting and other work.
Service Day is part of Warren Wilson’s new student orientation, a way for students to give back before they even start classes. It introduces incoming students to their community engagement commitment, which is a graduation requirement. It also allows them to connect to the community where they now live.
Students participate in Service Day together with their first-year seminars. Because all first-year seminars are community-engaged courses, many of the seminars will spend the day with the organization that they will continue to work with for the duration of the semester. For example, on Service Day the first-year seminar “Practicing Playfulness” worked with Verner Center for Early Learning. The “Pivoting Toward Community Justice & Belonging” first-year seminar went to the Veteran’s Restoration Quarters.
Service Day also gives students the opportunity to connect with each other.
“Sweating together– there’s something to that,” said Wendy Seligmann, Professor of Business and Chair of the Business Department at Warren Wilson. She worked with a First Year Seminar at Owen Middle School. “Working together builds a sense of community, commonality and building connections, that I think then finds its way into the classroom for engaging in deeper conversations.”
Service Day is the beginning of a four-year commitment to community engagement. Warren Wilson began this as a graduation requirement in 1960. The new students are following in the footsteps of several generations of Warren Wilson graduates dedicated to serving the larger community and making a lasting difference. Together, Warren Wilson students contribute more than 50,000 hours of community service to local nonprofit organizations throughout the year.
Service Day is one of several community engagement events that the college organizes throughout the year. The school also organizes recurring service trips with local community partners and break trips that sometimes involve travel to other states or countries.
The 18 organizations where students worked on Service Day included:
Christmount / Fern Way Farm
Verner Center for Early Learning
Shiloh Community Garden
Evergreen Charter School
Veteran’s Restoration Quarters
Dr. John Wilson Community Garden
Swannanoa Community Garden
Center for Conscious Living & Dying
Root Cause Farm
12 Baskets/Asheville Poverty Initiative
Montessori Learning Community
Hind’s Feet Farm
Habitat for Humanity