BY HOLLY FISHER
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
On Apr. 1, 65 UAS students came together to give back to the Juneau community.
The UAS Day of Service began three years ago as a component of the Alaska Leadership Initiative (AL-I). During the Spring semester of 2015, AL-I students developed and implemented the first Day of Service, managing its creation with minimal oversight. The goal was to formulate an event by students, for students.
After the success of the initial year, the participating AL-I members reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the project, and made plans to put on another Day of Service the following year.
The third annual Day of Service Apr. 1 saw four new organizations participating, and student volunteers up by fifteen people.
Students gathered at the Lakeside Grill to meet their team members and get instructions Saturday morning. Each group arrived at their location at 10:45 a.m., and worked until 1:45 p.m., with an ice cream social on campus following.
Though clouds threatened in the morning, heavy rain held off until close to the ending time, making for a pleasant working day overall. The AL-I students have recently completed the official evaluation and will be making plans of improvements and expansions for next year.
Since its beginning, the Day of Service has provided assistance to over fifty local non-profit organizations. Students served 11 Juneau organizations this year, with a mix of new and returning participants.
The 2017 Day of Service included new organizations Perseverance Theatre, The Salvation Army, Juneau Montessori School, American Red Cross, Gastineau Humane Society, and Douglas Public Library. Returning organizations were the Juneau Symphony, Evergreen Cemetery, The Bridge Adult Day Program, Juneau Public Libraries, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Through these groups, students were able to interact with the outside community in a mutually beneficial way.
“Students participating in the Day of Service have an opportunity to learn more about local organizations and their specific goals and challenges, thereby strengthening the UAS mission of community engagement. Students exposed to specific needs in the community may be more likely to get involved more regularly, by volunteering, donating funds, or advocating for certain causes to benefit our broader Juneau population,” said Tara Olson, UAS Student Activities Coordinator.
On the topic of community gains, she remarked, “organizations participating benefit from a few hours of free labor to tackle big projects, like landscaping, painting, moving furniture, etc. Assistance with these projects allows organization staff members more time to focus on accomplishing their goals and mission.”
“This year the event was part of the UAS Week of Kindness, an event put on as an extension of the 2017 Juneau-wide Year of Kindness, supported through the Juneau Police Department,” Olson said.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Bodenstadt.