This Saturday, Penn students used brooms and plastic gloves to tighten the bond between campus and city.
For the Civic House Associates Coalition’s annual Day of Service, about 25 Penn students spent two hours helping clean up a neighborhood in South Philadelphia with Ready, Willing & Able, an organization that helps previously incarcerated and homeless men re-enter the workforce.
CHAC chose to partner with RWA for the Day of Service after working with them during PennCorp, a service-centered pre-orientation program. The students met the RWA “trainees” at the Palumbo Recreational Center on 700 South 9th St., where they swept the sidewalks around the center and cleaned up its field.
“[It] allows Penn students to have the experience to work with [the trainees] and talk to them and hear their stories,” CHAC executive board member and College junior Connie Hua said.
RWA “trainees” live together in a center on 12th and Bainbridge streets, and are paid to help clean up Philadelphia neighborhoods. Besides employment, the organization provides career training and educational opportunities. Graduates of the program have found full-time employment and housing, and will receive lifelong support from RWA.
Eight members of RWA helped clean up the city on Saturday, even though they are not required to work on weekends.
“First of all I’m from Philadelphia, second of all, I like to work,” John, an RWA trainee, said when asked why he spent his weekend cleaning up the city. “I’m glad to be a part of Philadelphia.”
Students chatted with RWA members while they swept dirt off of the sidewalks and picked trash and sticks up from the field.
“Service is always a neat opportunity to learn about yourself,” 2012 College graduate and current Philadelphia resident Carolyn Moneymaker said.
CHAC External Liason and College junior Rachel Zurier noted all participants’ excitement about the projects.
“What really counts is that everyone came out today and is really excited about it,” said Zurier, an Under the Button editor and Daily Pennsylvanian staff member.
Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters also co-sponsored the event, which occurred during PRISM’s spring service weekend. The organization planned another service project on Saturday and helped organize eight different projects on Sunday. Many of the Sunday projects were part of Hillel’s “Mitzvah Day,” a day of good deeds.
“You find this common ground in giving back to the community,” PRISM co-chair and College junior Mia Garuccio said. “Everyone is trying to give back to the broader community and that’s what we’re trying to logistically plan.”
Organizers of each service event try to incorporate inter-faith dialogue during each community service project, she added.
Students of different faiths at the CHAC day of service enjoyed having the opportunity to meet one another.
“It’s hard to get plugged into other groups once you’re in one, so it’s nice to have events like this,” Penn Campus Crusade for Christ member and Nursing junior Bethany Haberer said.
“It’s nice to meet new people and learn about their faiths,” Penn Catholic Student Association president and College junior Margaret Buff said. “[I] like that all faiths are united by service.”