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Volunteer Service Day Kicks off Common Ground Initiative

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
“Volunteering is about others, not me,” says Destiny Welch, a freshman Nursing major at Marymount University. She moved into her dorm room on a Friday, and the very next day she participated in Marymount’s Volunteer Service Day along with more than 150 students, faculty, and staff.

The MU volunteers fanned out to help at 16 sites across northern Virginia. Welch was with a group that gave manicures to residents at a Sunrise Senior Living facility in Arlington. Other volunteers did painting and cleaning at A-SPAN (the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network); planted a community garden at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School; pulled weeds at St. Martin de Porres Senior Center and the Youth Apostles Institute; visited with residents at two L’Arche homes for adults with mental disabilities; picked up trash along Donaldson Run; and sorted bike parts at Phoenix Bikes, food donations at Christ House, and a variety of goods at the Clock Tower Thrift Store.

>> Watch the Volunteer Service Day video

About one-third of the volunteers were freshmen, who eagerly embraced the university’s culture of service. For freshman Demetrius Jordan, an Art major, volunteering comes naturally. He explained, “In high school, I was involved in many forms of service – landscaping, painting murals for “Gorgeous Prince George’s [County]”. I’m glad to be part of this today, and I hope to be involved in more service opportunities, especially using my art.” Freshman Emily Luke, a Nursing major, agreed. “I’m a firm believer in giving back to your community, your country,” she said. “I plan to join the Navy after graduation; I want a career where I can continue to give back.” Freshman Ava Prizzi, a Biology major, added, “I went to a Catholic high school and was kind of raised to do this.”

Volunteer Service Day was also a great way for members of the MU community to connect with one another. Freshman Labria Hines, a Nursing major, said, “I like helping out, and it’s a good way to get started at Marymount.” Marian Lumba, a junior IT major, added, “It’s fun to get to know other Marymount people who you might not otherwise meet.”

Dr. Skye Donovan, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, brought along her two young sons, Cooper and Hagan, to help out. Working on the grounds of the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center in Alexandria, she emphasized, “This is why I took the job at Marymount. I wanted to be at a school with a strong commitment to service. Also, I live in northern Virginia and believe that giving back to the community is important. And I want to set an example for my children.”

Marymount President Matthew D. Shank pulled weeds alongside students, while his wife, Lynne, and their two young daughters spent time with senior citizens. Dr. Shank notes, “This year at Marymount, we’re focusing on the theme ‘Common Ground,’ which refers to the values that we share. These include intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective. Marymount’s a very diverse community, but whatever our backgrounds, we know that we can do great things by working together toward our shared ideals.”

As the volunteers finished up their work at A-SPAN, Jan-Michael Sacharko, the Network’s development director, remarked, “The Marymount group did a good cleaning and finished painting a bathroom for us. We need everybody in Arlington helping out, so we appreciate this.”

Maryanne McMillen, assistant director of the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, pointed to the human element: “Work like this means a lot to the seniors – not only because it makes their center more beautiful, but because it is a sign of love and respect. These volunteers will never meet them, but they love them enough to come out here and help.”
PHOTO CAPTIONS - For more photos, see the Flickr collection.
PHOTO 1 – (l-to-rt) Carly Blancato ’16, a Business Administration major; Olivia Fedor ’13, a Criminal Justice, Forensic Science major; and Sami Webster ’16, a Fashion Design major plant a garden at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington. Photo by Matt Dunham

PHOTO 2 – (l-to-rt) Demetrius Jordan ’16, an Art major, tries to pull down a vine on the grounds of the Youth Apostles Institute, as Nick Bensmiller ’16, a Psychology major, and Tricia Goldberg ’16, a Health Sciences major, cheer him on. Photo by Thiha Soe (Kay)

PHOTO 3 – Dr. Matthew D. Shank, Marymount’s president, clears branches at the Youth Apostles’ Men’s House in McLean, as Lizee Mueller ’15, who is studying to become a Special Education teacher, sweeps up. Photo by Thiha Soe (Kay)

PHOTO 4 – Dr. Pamela Moreno (foreground), associate dean of the First-Year Experience, and Jairus Tabb ’16, a Nursing major, sort bike parts at Phoenix Bikes in Arlington. The community bike shop teaches teens business and leadership skills. Photo by Matt Dunham

PHOTO 5 – Emilia Larach ’15, a Psychology major, gives a manicure to a resident of an Arlington Sunrise Senior Living facility. Photo by Caitlin Murphy