On Sept. 18, approximately 1,200 Whitworth students, faculty and staff, including Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor and his wife, Julie, will lend a hand to nonprofit organizations across Spokane in efforts to improve the community.
Community Building Day is an annual Whitworth event that began in 1907 as a student-led campus-beautification endeavor called Campus Day. In the mid-1990s, the project evolved into a partnership between local nonprofit organizations and Whitworth volunteers who work on clean-up and improvement projects throughout Spokane. The perennially popular event is foundational in fostering a lifelong ethic of social and civic responsibility in Whitworth students; it also provides valuable services to nonprofit agencies across the Spokane area. Community Building Day also honors U.S. President Barack Obama's call to a National Day of Service in remembrance of September 11, 2001.
“In addition to providing a first step toward a lifetime of service for many students, this event also provides an opportunity for the entire Whitworth community to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity by providing valuable services to nonprofit agencies in the community,” says Steve La Pointe, assistant director of Whitworth’s Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement.
LaPointe adds that Community Building Day is consistent with the call for Christians to serve others, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Matthew 20:28 (NIV).
After working in the community, volunteers will gather at 11:45 for a barbecue lunch outside Whitworth’s Hixson Union Building. After lunch, CBD participants will hear from President Taylor and State Representative Kevin Parker, ‘96, (R) of the Washington House of Representatives (6th District).
Beck and Julie Taylor will serve at Anna Ogden Hall as a symbol of Whitworth’s commitment to its partnership with the West Central neighborhood. Former Whitworth trustee Albert Arend co-founded Anna Ogden Hall’s parent organization, Union Gospel Mission, in 1951. The Taylors will visit with and listen to the stories of women living at Anna Ogden Hall’s Family Life Center. Students from Whitworth’s Arend Hall will assist with a library project to promote literacy among the children who live at Ogden Hall.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Whitworth as the university seeks to connect its students with service opportunities throughout the Spokane community,” says Phil Altmeyer, executive director of Union Gospel Mission. “For Beck and Julie Taylor to serve alongside their students at the Mission’s Anna Ogden Hall is testament to their commitment to the integration of education and service.”
Karen Morrison, president of Odyssey World International Education Services, says, “A mere thank-you does not seem enough to express my gratitude for all the wonderful volunteers who helped to make Whitworth’s Community Building Day one of the highlights of the year.”
Approximately 150 students, faculty, and staff will work at various sites for Catholic Charities Spokane, including St. Margaret's Shelter, the Cathedral Plaza Apartments, the Fahy West Apartments, House of Charity, and St. Anne's Family Center. At Center Pointe and The Arc of Spokane, roughly 35 volunteers will work on arts-and-crafts projects with developmentally disabled adults. More than 35 volunteers will help the Greater Hillyard Neighborhood Association with clean-up projects. As many as 50 volunteers will canvass neighborhoods in Northwest Spokane to find homeowners interested in energy-efficient retrofitting provided by Sustainable Works. Additionally, Whitworth’s former vice president for student life, the chair of the Master of Arts in Theology Program, and the chair of the Core 150 Program will be among 50 volunteers assembling food baskets at Christ Kitchen to assist women in poverty.
More than 120 students will join efforts with all of Holmes Elementary School’s sixth graders for a community beautification project in Spokane’s West Central neighborhood. This collaborative effort will be the start of a longer-term partnership between Whitworth and Holmes Elementary in which Whitworth students will continue to provide tutoring and mentoring support not only for Holmes, but also for the other public K-12 institutions in West Central Spokane.
Other sites include The Boys and Girls Club, Central Lutheran Church, City Gate, Cup of Cool Water, Girl Scouts, Goodwill Industries, Hutton Settlement, Lilac Services for the Blind, Mission Community Outreach Center, Odyssey World International, Project HOPE – Riverfront Farm, Riverside State Park, Rockwood at Hawthorne, Salvation Army, SpokAnimal, several parks and lakes in the area, Volunteers of America, Westminster Hall Garden Project, YMCA and Youth for Christ.
All Whitworth students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are encouraged to participate in Community Building Day. Individuals or groups can serve at local churches or other nonprofit agencies; they are encouraged to direct questions to Steve LaPointe via the contact information below.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.