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More than 125 volunteers congregated at the Maricopa County Human Services Campus in central Phoenix Saturday, Oct. 24, for this year’s fall Day of Service.
The community service event, organized by students in Arizona State University’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, brought together students, staff, faculty and supporters to participate in activities that benefit their community. It’s the third time the event has been held at the campus.
“I think there’s a popular notion that the only thing that motivates young people today is money. And I think it’s wrong,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, welcoming volunteers to the event.
The biannual Day of Service is planned by students enrolled in the special events management course (PRM 486) offered by the School of Community Resources and Development. Students in the course are tasked with planning and managing the event each semester. Last spring’s class planned a day of clean up, gardening, painting and maintenance at Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park.
“It’s set up in a way that allows us to integrate a lot of students and a lot of community members to educate people about homelessness and poverty as well as to get them involved in something,” said Daelyn Pillar, a student studying nonprofit leadership and management.
Each fall semester, event participants focus on serving the Human Services Campus, a collaboration of more than a dozen service agencies and community partners. Clients visit the center to find shelter, medical, employment and housing resources. The campus is also home to a community garden, which center officials say provided more than 2,000 pounds of food last year.
Volunteers signed up for various activities including organizing and sorting through donations, cleaning up classrooms, and revitalizing the community garden for Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), St. Joseph the Worker, the Lodestar Day Resource Center and St. Vincent de Paul.
This year, several volunteers worked in an empty lot on the campus to remove weeds that posed a fire hazard and prevented contractors from working on the lot.
When the lot is fully renovated, it will be used as an extension to the campus’s community garden, providing more food for those coming through the campus, according to Dale Larsen, director of community relations for the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
“We’re right in the middle of government, right here,” Larsen said. “If we can make this look and feel like it’s an important part of the community, then it’s going to help bridge this connection between state, county and local government.”
For the three years the volunteer service day has been held, it has generated thousands of pounds of foods in the expanding community garden and helped maintain the campus’s welcome center, which opened up last year as part of a pilot Coordinated Assessment System for the campus.
The system is used to reconnect clients to housing and family by assessing their needs before they enter the campus. According to David Bridge, managing director of the Human Services Campus, the program has assessed 9,000 people in the year and a half since it opened.
“We’ve been able to divert over 20 percent of our population,” said Bridge at the event’s opening. “In that building that you guys helped us create, 20 percent of our population never needs to go further into the homeless system.”
Students participating in the event, which included members of the new Public Service Academy’s Next Generation Service Corps, said the event was a rewarding opportunity for engagement in their community.
“For me, I was able to have hands-on experience making the event,” said Amanda Frein, one of the PRM 486 students responsible for planning the event. “I’ve never done that before, so I was able to see the different parts of it and what goes into it.”
“It was a pretty long process. It was pretty hard, but in the end it was all worth it,” said classmate Rachel Paul.
Written by Andres Guerra Luz