Students Pay it Forward
Shovels? Check. Rakes? Check. Trowel? Check. Additional gardening tools? Check.
Working hands and good attitudes? Check.
On May 10, students and staff gathered in the quad and various other locations around campus to both clean up and to thank the Chemeketa facility services team at the same time.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students and staff from various departments volunteered their time to tidy up locations around campus. Students who participated in the Into the Quad event planted garden beds and picked up trash.
Peter Starr, the college’s civic engagement coordinator, said, “We have a lot of students who are interested in doing community service. But because we are a two-year community college, schedules get in the way.”
Wilma Soriano, a member of the Associated Students of Chemeketa, said, “The importance of Into the Quad is getting people to clean up our campus. It was about making the place we come to school at a better environment and taking care of it.”
Since the college started the service project a few years ago, Star said, Into the Quad has continually gotten better and better.
“This year we had approximately 98 volunteers, give or take,” he said.
Soriano said, “Volunteering is great because you get to meet new people, and it’s not always about what you’re doing, but who you’re doing it with, like the environment you’re in.”
Starr said one of the things that made this year’s Into the Quad event different from past years was that there was more faculty involvement.
“It means a lot to our students when, even for 15 to 20 minutes, a staff person goes out and is standing side-by-side with a student doing service on campus. There’s an interesting kind of collateral thing that happens with Into the Quad,” Starr said.
Starr believes that service projects like Into the Quad help students take a sense of ownership in their college.
Doug Vitro, an Associated Students of Chemeketa, said, “There’s a lot of motivation for serving. I give back not necessarily for the ‘warm/fuzzy’ feelings, but because it is a great way of benefiting my community and the people [and places] that have given so much to me.”
On May 31, students will have another opportunity to participate in service projects off-campus in the Into the Streets event, which also is run by the Associated Students of Chemeketa.
Community service projects for Into the Streets range from volunteering at Salem parks, the Union Gospel Mission, the Willamette Humane Society, the Chemawa Indian School, Stop Oregon Litter & Vandalism, the Women’s Crisis Center, the Marion-Polk Food Share, and the Red Cross.
Starr said, “Students partner with these organizations, design off-campus service projects, and we basically repeat the same model of Into the Quad, except that we get vans and take students off-campus to the various sites.
“The projects are all student-driven. They’re designed by students. They’re lead by students.”
Vitro said, “I think the importance of Into the Quad/Into the Streets is the ability for students to get involved with projects both on-campus and off-campus in communities around Salem to promote awareness about community service.”
Starr said that the project helps give students get the same sense of ownership that they would get from participating in Into the Quad, but with their community.
Starr also believes that there is a sense of pride that goes along with volunteering within the community, which is why Into the Streets is rewarding.
Soriano said, “There’s a satisfaction when you do something good, and it’s priceless. I think that is something that matters.”
Vitro said, “I think Into the Streets matters to show that the college is invested in the community and that we care about the community at large and the support they give us by showing that we can support them.”