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More than 1,000 Whitworth students, staff and faculty to join Spokane nonprofits for Community Building Day Sept. 21

September 9, 2016
On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Whitworth students, faculty and staff will lend a hand to organizations across Spokane in efforts to strengthen the community. 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.

For the fifth consecutive year, Spokane Teachers Credit Union has generously provided financial support for the event, and STCU staff will serve alongside Whitworth volunteers.

This year Whitworth will partner with 42 agencies at 54 service sites across the region, providing an economic impact of more than $110,000. Many service locations are located in the West Central neighborhood, Whitworth’s partner neighborhood for more than a decade. Buses will depart from Hawthorne Hall on the Whitworth campus at 8 a.m. and will return to campus at noon for a lunch event in the Hixson Union Building. All Whitworth students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are encouraged to participate.

New Community Building Day partnerships for 2016 include the following:

  • Computer science students will lead an hour of code, part of the initiative, at Holmes Elementary this year. Under the leadership of Computer Science Professor Pete Tucker, Whitworth continues to support STEM education and enrichment in the Spokane region through the investment of student volunteers, faculty research and payroll hours to increase K-12 students’ access to and fluency with computers. 
  • At the Verbrugge Environmental Center, outside Newport, Wash., Whitworth analytical chemistry students will work alongside AP chemistry students from North Central High School to collect soil and water samples from wetlands regions. Students at both schools will complete analysis to detect chemical changes in the delicate wetlands ecosystem in support of conservation efforts. They will share the results of their collaborative research in the spring.
  • Students from Whitworth’s history department will canvas the West Central neighborhood to build awareness for Spokane COPS Block Watch program, a national initiative aimed at reducing property crime by having neighbors know and look out for one another and report suspicious activity to police. As they work with the Block Watch program, Whitworth students will have the opportunity to learn about and advocate for community-oriented policing.
  • Whitworth nursing students will partner on campus with representatives from Parasport Spokane – just back from a trip to the Para-Olympics, in Rio – to tune, clean and prepare wheelchairs for the coming year of competition. Parasport was selected by the Inland Northwest Service-Learning Partnership for its Community Partner of the Year Award in 2015 based in part on their inclusion of Whitworth students and faculty in their mission to promote the success, self-worth and independence of youth and adults with physical disabilities. Parasport includes members of Whitworth’s health sciences faculty on its staff of committed professionals. 
As in past years, Whitworth students majoring in physics and computer science and Whitworth Associate Professor of Physics Markus Ong will refurbish computers that will be distributed to women and families in need at St. Margaret’s Shelter, a program of Catholic Charities Spokane. For the fifth year in a row, Community Building Day will include a neighborhood clean-up in West Central, bringing Whitworth students and members of the Spokane Police Department into service alongside sixth graders from Holmes Elementary School. This service opportunity builds Holmes students’ pride in their neighborhood and gives them an opportunity to talk about attending college with Whitworth students.

Several Spokane organizations have partnered with Whitworth for more than five years on Community Building Day, including Girl Scouts, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, and Catholic Charities. These agencies rely on Whitworth’s annual support in late summer to complete cleaning projects, to make improvements to facilities, and to prepare for winter and school-year programs.

Community Building Day is supported by Whitworth’s Dornsife Center for Community Engagement. The event is an annual Whitworth tradition 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.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Matthew Baker, program coordinator, Dornsife Center for Community Engagement, (509) 777-4279 or

Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or