(Watch a video of the Day of Service.)
Over 150 participants, separated into groups, visited 10 service locations from Moon Township to downtown Pittsburgh. Students did everything from visiting elderly residents at a local rehab center to helping with painting and landscaping at a home for abused or neglected children.
This year’s day of service was planned by Randon Willard, coordinator in RMU’s Office of Student Civic Engagement (OSCE), along with Nicole Hammond and Meredith Weber in the university’s Center for Student Success. The OSCE and the Center for Student Success have been partnering on the ESP Day of Service for the past four years. This year, for the first time, RMU’s First Year Success Program (FYSP) Mentors attended the event. These mentors help to run the FYSP class with the instructor and serve as liaisons for the first-year students and the university.
“The day of service allows our first-year students to see the variety of nonprofit partners that RMU serves, and it gives them a taste of the ways they can invest in the greater Pittsburgh community,” said Willard. “Our hope is for first-year students to get exposed to a few of the organizations that we work with regularly for them to continue to volunteer with those organizations if they would choose.”
RMU’s Early Success Program is intended to assist new students with the transition from high school to college. It gives students various opportunities to learn about the university environment, through group workshops, interactive assignments, and social engagements. Upperclassmen can also serve as ESP leaders who act as positive role models and friends for their students.
Laura Kennedy, of the World Vision International Distribution Center in Sewickley, was impressed by RMU’s student volunteers. “They were terrific,” said Kennedy. “The groups keep getting better and better each year. It's great working with Robert Morris University.”
Chris Crytzer, grant writer for Focus on Renewal in McKees Rocks, echoed Kennedy’s statement. “We had a wonderful time with the RMU students and mentors today,” said Crytzer. “Our staff and volunteers all had very positive things to say about the students and the work they did today. Our clients even clapped when the volunteers walked past them. It was a very positive day.”
On August 28, RMU freshman had another opportunity to give back when they visited Alternative Energy Youth Farm in Clinton, Pa., a group home that uses its farm and alternative energy sources to mentor adolescent males. Students also volunteered at Promise Camp, a summer camp in Clinton that gives inner city children a place of hope.
“This year’s day of service was a huge success,” said Willard. “Our partners kept commenting on how the small acts of kindness that the students did while volunteering would continue to have ripple effects for years to come. It is my hope that this class of RMU students will continue to invest their time into the community and be a class that is characterized by changing lives.”