News

Willamette Community Contributes Service Hours

Inspired by the university motto, "Not unto ourselves alone are we born," Willamette students, faculty and staff volunteered 66,362 hours to local and global communities during the past academic year.

Undergraduate students assisted migrant farmworkers, restored native habitat, served food at homeless shelters, cleaned beaches, and helped individuals with disabilities as Best Buddies, along with numerous other student-initiated activities. Graduate students from the Willamette University College of Law got a start in the legal profession by providing thousands of hours of pro bono assistance to needy Salem residents through the Willamette Legal Clinic. Atkinson Graduate School of Management students learned business management skills while assisting local and regional businesses and nonprofit organizations, while School of Education students tutored children in local schools.

Faculty and staff members volunteered as well, contributing to more than 100 community nonprofit organizations, including neighborhood associations, the Salem Art Association and United Way.

Willamette's volunteer engagement was nationally recognized in 2008 when the university was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service, and the volunteer projects of the Willamette football team were honored locally when United Way named the players the Days of Caring Team of the Year.

Alumni remain engaged as well, with Willamette ranking tenth in the nation among small schools for the number of graduates who participate in the Peace Corps.

Student volunteer projects include the Take a Break alternative spring break program, which exposes students to complex social issues through direct service, experiential learning and individual reflection. The core mission of the program is community, justice, service and simplicity. Students fan out to cities across the U.S. to provide service, including rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina, tutoring inner city children and befriending the homeless.

The Tiger Club is a student-initiated and student-led partnership with Bush Elementary School, located in a low-income neighborhood that is high in crime. Willamette students provide after-school education and mentoring to children, helping them catch up to district and state standards in math, science, reading and writing.

Willamette Academy at Willamette University inspires ethnically diverse teens to develop leadership skills and a love of learning, and to be the first in their families to enroll in college. Academic mentors from Willamette provide 5,000 hours of after-school tutoring and staff weeklong programs and weekend activities.

Willamette has formed a partnership with Chemawa Indian School, which serves 400 high school students from more than 60 tribes and 20 states. The partnership provides shared social, cultural and educational experiences between the campuses, with Willamette students tutoring 200 teens - half the student body - on a weekly basis.

Into the Streets is an event that allows Willamette students, faculty, staff and alumni to provide service to the community as part of the university's weeklong Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The student-run program drew 100 volunteers to help landscape and weed parks, clean and paint community buildings, play with children at the homeless shelter, and provide companionship for the elderly. Following the service activities, students participated in a reflection session to discuss relevant social issues.

Finally, 400 students provided 800 hours of service to 24 community organizations during the university's new student orientation, Opening Days. The students were nominated for the Days of Caring Team of the Year, sponsored by United Way.

For more about Willamette's engagement efforts, visit the Office of Community Service Learning, our Mission and Motto page, or read stories about Living Our Motto.

08-03-2009