Student Affairs employees participate in annual Day of Service

Volunteers at Dream CenterPulling weeds, delivering and serving meals, sorting clothing, cleaning and painting — these are just a few of the tasks employees from the Student Affairs division completed over spring break as part of their annual Day of Service.

“It was a reset button,” said Becky Milam, director of New Student Orientation programs. Milam delivered meals to those in need through Mobile Meals.

“It makes you realize there are people in the community who are elderly or disabled who are unable to leave their home easily, who are living in meager circumstances,” Milam said. “This is often their only meal of the day, and you might be the only person they speak to that week.”

She recounted how meal recipients often wanted to speak to her about their past accomplishments and circumstances. Some said they wished they had pursued higher education in order to make themselves more financially prepared.

“They almost want you to understand that their lives were not always like this,” Milam said. “It was a reminder to me to be appreciative; any of us could be in that position.”

This is the second year that the Student Affairs division has spent a day in service to the community over spring break.

“It’s a good thing to do for those in need, it’s good for the college to be a good community partner and it’s good for team building within Student Affairs,” said Rebecca Ashford, vice president of Student Affairs. “But most importantly, it’s not just the organization or the person in need that gets help. Volunteer work changes the volunteer.”

Volunteers from Student Affairs worked at the following agencies: the Gentle Barn, CAC Beardsley Community Farm, the Center for Urban Agriculture at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, the Muse Knoxville, Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding, Sunshine Industries-Beta Home, Knoxville Dream Center, Mobile Meals, Knoxville Zoo and Mane Support.

Student Affairs spends day in community service

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The entire staff of Student Affairs took a day during Spring Break to learn more about Service-Learning at Pellissippi State and to give back to the community.

The division’s 70-plus employees spent March 11 at eight different sites around Knox, Blount and Loudon counties doing community service.

“Because of the expected influx of Tennessee Promise students and as more and more of our other students participate in Service-Learning, I wanted the Student Affairs staff to understand what Service-Learning was and how students go through the program,” said Rebecca Ashford, vice president of Student Affairs.

“I wanted everyone who works in Student Affairs not only to have the chance to give back to the community and spend time with each other, but to understand what the students who come to them for help are going through.”

The group worked at the Blount County Animal Shelter, Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, Knoxville Zoo, Mobile Meals, SAFTA/Firefly Farms, Second Harvest Food Bank, Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (aka STAR), and Volunteer Ministry Center.

“We did everything from pulling weeds to cleaning horse stalls to delivering meals,” Ashford said. “It was a great day.”

Lisa Matthews from Counseling Services spent a rainy morning helping landscapers and working in the greenhouses at the Knoxville Zoo, where she repotted tropical ferns.

“I wasn’t aware how much the Knoxville Zoo relies on volunteers,” she said. “They have a small staff, but they really rely on volunteers to help keep the Zoo running.

“We had a good time. After we finished our work, we were able to go behind the scenes and tour the Turtle House, where we saw a hatchling turtle just emerging from its shell, poking out its little head.”

Matthews says she appreciated the chance to spend time in service to the community. “When I was in undergrad at Lee University, service-learning was very important to me. It was a wonderful new perspective of service now that I’m a staff member at a college.”

Gayle Wood of Access and Diversity spent time with clients of Volunteer Ministry Center and met a former Pellissippi State student there.

“It was awesome to interact with all of the clients of the Volunteer Ministry Center, but especially to meet a former student,” Wood said. “We invited him to come by Pellissippi State to work out his financial needs. We were able to talk to him about financial aid, counseling, academic and career services, and support for adult students. We have a great support system for students just like him.”

As part of Pellissippi State’s 40th anniversary celebrations, all faculty and staff members are encouraged to spend time in community service through the “4 for 40” service opportunities. Visit www.pstcc.edu/anniversary or www.pstcc.edu/service-learning for more information.