Editor's note: Ben Sheene, a junior English major from Danville, Ky., wrote this article.
DANVILLE, KY—For most, summer marks the return of sandy beaches, a relaxing time at home, maybe even a summer job; for some Centre students, though, summer is a time of community service. For members of the College staff and a handful of students, summer meant a trip to West Virginia for volunteering and service work.
Earlier this summer, Patrick Noltemeyer, Director of Volunteer Service and the Bonner service program, along with Megan O'Brien, Director of Student Activities, Ned Frazer, Assistant Director of Admission, and eleven students went to McDowell County—the fifth poorest county in West Virginia.
For six days, students and staff teamed up with the county’s community center to help local families fix up their homes. "The students completed an amazing amount of work in just a few days and really built some strong relationships with the folks there," said Noltemeyer. The students who volunteered were Sam Ruth '06, Elizabeth Wisman '06, Cassie Brownson '07, Kevin Havelda '08, Ali Lindon '08, Maggie Proffitt '08, Eddie Buchanan '09, Deysi Hernandez '09, Teresa Johnstone '09, Kendrick Newton '09, and Janay Thomas '09.
Among the various projects, the students built walls, installed insulation, laid a new kitchen sub-floor, laid a new laminate floor, scraped the exterior of a home and completely repainted it, shingled a roof, installed vinyl siding, and built benches for a family’s fire circle.
In addition to the various tasks completed in McDowell County, several students (including many who had already volunteered in West Virginia) participated in what is called the "Summers of Service" program. Students who apply for the program are committed to 280 hours of service at a specific site during their time off from Centre. For their efforts, Centre's Bonner Program compensates the students with a stipend.
This summer the student volunteers are: Eddie Buchanan who will be at the Senior Adult Day Center; Luke Canfield '07, the Heart of Kentucky United Way; Deysi Hernandez, Wayside Christian Mission; Brittney Hertog '09, Helping Through Him, a commodities distribution organization; Teresa Johnston, Scottie's Place, a camp for homeless children; Kendrick Newton, Daystar Camp, a summer camp for kids; and Janay Thomas, Making Connections Work.
So far, the seven "Summers of Service" students are still helping out at their various locations. Already some students have interesting stories to relay back about their experiences volunteering. Eddie Buchanan, a rising sophomore from Greenville, Ky. talks about his work at the Senior Adult Day Center: "These seniors are a lot of fun to talk with and they're absolutely hilarious. All of the people here are easy to work with and seem very appreciative to have some extra help." Buchanan says that he also helps with maintenance and repairs around the center, assists in transportation, and delivering and serving meals to the seniors.
Centre is part of a national consortium of schools who have partnered with the Bonner Foundation to provide students with access to education and the opportunity to serve. Established in 1991, the national Bonner Foundation is a leading organization in providing service curriculum and support for students at over 50 colleges and universities. For more on the Bonner Program, see: http://www.centre.edu/bonner/.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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