Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hundreds of Whitworth students, staff and faculty to team with Spokane nonprofits for Sept. 17 Community Building Day


Event to include an address by President Beck Taylor at Holmes Elementary and a free workshop for Spokane families

On Tuesday, September 17, approximately 1,000 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 help strengthen 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 event evolved into a partnership between local nonprofit organizations and Whitworth volunteers who work on clean-up and improvement projects throughout Spokane. Unique to this year’s event is an address given by President Taylor at Holmes Elementary School at 8:45 a.m., and an on-campus student-led workshop on how families can use digital and social-media tools to communicate during challenging times.

Community Building Day is foundational in fostering a lifelong ethic of social and civic responsibility in Whitworth students; it also provides valuable services to nonprofit agencies across Spokane.

“As our students serve side by side with Spokane agencies, they develop a sense of being a part of the Whitworth community,” says Ross Brooke Watts, assistant director of service-learning and community engagement at Whitworth. “At the same time, they have an opportunity to develop a deeper connection with Spokane. Through service, they come to know the challenges facing our community, its many strengths and its people. This context helps them to feel at home in Spokane and to feel empowered to make a difference.”

Reflecting Whitworth’s longtime partnership with the West Central neighborhood, President Taylor will speak at Holmes Elementary School from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. during Community Building Day. Afterward, he and Julie will serve at Holmes by handing out materials for a student-led cleanup effort in the neighborhood, led by over 120 Whitworth students and all of Holmes’ sixth graders. They will also accompany students who will be distributing CFL light bulbs door-to-door, through a partnership with Sustainable Works.

Whitworth, along with Gonzaga University and Spokane Public Schools, was recently awarded a $500,000 grant by the state legislature in support of a partnership that provides the elementary school with teaching, learning and technological resources.

“This grant creates ongoing opportunities for students and faculty to engage in community-based research, and for students to have internship opportunities that will help bring curricula to life and prepare them for their vocational endeavors,” says Keith Kelley, director of service-learning and community engagement at Whitworth. “There is no better place to gain real-world experience than out in one’s own community.”

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Erica Salkin will have her students lead a social-media workshop, “Compassion 2.0,” as part of their Community Building Day experience. The workshop is free and open to the public. Students will help attendees learn how digital and social-media tools can be used to help families communicate during challenging times, especially in relation to medical and health issues. Pairs of students will work with individuals to help them better understand and use social media and other digital tools.

“I've seen friends, family and loved ones go through difficult times and witnessed how the outpouring of support from people around you can be both a blessing and a bother,” Salkin says. “Everyone wants to know how they can help, everyone wants you to know that they are thinking of you. That's encouraging, but it can also be exhausting. New media tools can help you handle those information needs in a way that you control.”

Two workshop sessions will be offered; the first is from 9-10:30 a.m., and the second is from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Both will take place at Whitworth, in Hawthorne Hall, Room 112. Hawthorne Hall is located at the corner of Division St. and Hawthorne Road, in north Spokane. For more information about the workshop, please call Erica Salkin at 509.777-4704 or e-mail esalkin@whitworth.edu.

Other volunteer sites for Community Building Day 2013 include Rockwood at Hawthorne retirement community, Arc of Spokane, Mission Community Outreach, Hutton Settlement, Christ Kitchen, Catholic Charities, Union Gospel Mission, Spokane Humane Society, Liberty Park Child Development Center, Anna Ogden Hall, Project Hope, Mission Community Outreach, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, and Whitworth’s Verbrugge Environmental Center.

Community Building Day will take place from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Volunteers will gather at 11:45 a.m. outside the Hixson Union Building on campus for a barbecue lunch. All Whitworth students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are encouraged to participate.

Spokane community members may also volunteer at local churches or other nonprofit agencies on Sept. 17. To identify a placement agency and reserve a space, please call Ross Brooke Watts at 509.777.4566 or e-mail bwatts@whitworth.edu.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Ross Brooke Watts, assistant director, Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4566 or bwatts@whitworth.edu.

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or lbeechinor@whitworth.edu.