About 100 SU faculty and staff spent the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 25, working on a variety of service projects throughout the university’s neighborhood.
The afternoon began with a welcome by Kent Koth, director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement, who first thanked those who were key in making the day possible: the Office of Human Resources, particularly Rhonda Woods; Elizabeth O’Brien of the Center for Service and Community Engagement; and the university leadership.
Koth then encouraged the participating faculty and staff to get to know each other, embrace the opportunity to leave their comfort zones, make a difference in the community and think of service in the long term. “A service day like today,” he said, “is just the beginning…of our commitment” to the university’s neighborhood. Koth reminded faculty and staff to look into the Community Service Leave Benefit through which faculty and staff can volunteer in the community the equivalent of three working days a year during work hours.
With that, participants then fanned out to lend a hand at nine sites throughout the neighborhood: St. Francis House, ElderHealth, Nature Consortium, Danny Woo Gardens, YWCA, Jubilee Women’s Center, Mary’s Place, Providence Hospitality House and Youth Tutoring Program.
Their tasks ran the gamut from pulling weeds to assembling binders for a tutoring program. Afterward, they returned to the Union Green for an ice cream social and a chance to meet with representatives from community organizations in the neighborhood and explore longer term service opportunities.
As one example, Koth pointed out that Big Brothers and Big Sisters is looking for faculty and staff to help mentor students at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School once a week over lunch break.
For many years faculty and staff celebrated the end of summer with a picnic. That tradition changed last year with the first annual Staff and Faculty Service Day. The experience was very well-received; this year’s second edition proved a worthy follow-up.
The day of service is another manifestation of the university’s growing outreach to its neighborhood. Through the Seattle University Youth Initiative, the university is strengthening its partnership with community organizations in the Bailey Gatzert reference area to improve the lives of young people, particularly their educational opportunities.