Community Building Day fulfills the Whitworth mission

by McKinley Powers

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Whitworth students and staff loaded into buses and headed to various nonprofit organizations located all throughout Spokane community for Community Building Day, a four-hour period in which Whitworth gives back to the Spokane community.

“The current purpose [of Community Building Day] is to help fulfill the university’s mission of bringing Whitworth students, faculty and staff to serve humanity and engage with agencies in Spokane to meet community needs,” said “Ross” Brooke Watts, Whitworth director of the Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement.

About 1,100 students, faculty and staff participated on Tuesday.  Each group was sent to a nonprofit agency in the Spokane area.

“There were sites just for Whitworth staff, sites for first-year and transfer seminar classes and just for upperclassmen and faculty that had participated before and wanted to participate again,” Watts said.

When assigning sites for first-year and transfer seminar classes, the committee makes an effort for Community Building Day to be a valuable learning experience for students. Because first-year and transfer seminar classes are classified by majors, the classes would be assigned to a place where they can relate to the work they are doing, Watts said.

For example, nursing students were able to spend the day at Sacred Heart Hospital. They were able to experience the environment that they themselves may experience in their futures.

“It has given me a bigger perspective on how furthering my education and worldview can enhance and build the community,” freshman Colin Lempert said.

Lempert spent the day at the Women’s Hearth Transitions Center where he cleaned tables and chairs and interacted with the women at the shelter.  Freshmen Ethan Holt also spent his day at the Women’s Hearth and also was able to interact with the women he was helping.

“[By volunteering] it shows them that young people do care and want to make a difference,” Holt said.

Watts and Kasey Culmback, program coordinator for Service-Learning and Community Engagement, were a large part of the event coming together. They also had a large staff who contributed to the day.

“It was five months of intensive planning, mainly started at the beginning of May all the way up to September. It was altogether a 12-month planning process, but especially intense in those five months,” Watts said.

According to the Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, the value of a volunteer’s time is $26.72 per hour in the state of Washington. Multiply $26.72 by Whitworth’s 1,100 volunteers, and multiply that by the four hours each volunteer worked on Community Building Day and the amount equals $117,568. That means that in just four hours on Tuesday, Whitworth students, faculty and staff generated $117,568 worth of work for various nonprofit organizations in Spokane.

“It’s enough just to go out and do the best I can to serve the community that has given Whitworth so much,” Lempert said.

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