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Sunshine, Symbiosis Mark

Whitworth Serves Day

By Matt McCourt, '12

The sun was shining. This may not mean much to those of you who live outside the Pacific Northwest (I hear that Colorado gets a lot of sun), but for this Portland, Ore., resident the sunshine elicited a sigh of relief and a quick prayer that the unlikely weather would continue for the 2.5 hours of Whitworth Serves that I'd signed up for.

I'm a member of the Class of 2012 who graduated with degrees in sociology and history, and in my time at Whitworth I learned that it is important to work with, rather than just for, your community to empower people to seek lasting change in their lives.

Flash forward.

After graduation I volunteered around Portland for a year, and I've now worked at Friends of the Children for 1.5 years. With service as my center, I found an organization that helps youth in the community break the generational cycle of poverty through providing paid professional mentors to the city's most vulnerable youth, from kindergarten through high school graduation.

On Saturday, March 28, I got together with current students, parents, trustees and alumni to help plant gardens for Friends of the Children. In less-than-a-night-class's amount of time, we created an opportunity for youth to grow their own vegetables, tend their own gardens, and develop a sense of home beyond the walls of their own world.

Fourteen people @ 2.5 hours each equaled 35 hours of work. If you multiply this across 13 worksites in communities in 10 states, it's hard to overlook the great impact we can have when we come together to serve.

A Whitworth education of mind and heart teaches students about the need in the world each is soon to enter. And Whitworth Serves gives the Whitworth community the chance to pull together outside the pine cone curtain to take a step toward addressing this need.