PUC Students Give Back to Community for Service Day

By Ally Romanes on November 17, 2023

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On October 19, students at Pacific Union College had the opportunity to partner with community agencies to give back to the local neighborhoods. During Service Day, students volunteer at service locations to assist residents with various community needs.

Service Day began last year to raise awareness about PUC and encourage student engagement in the community. This campus program implements service learning, where students can get involved in the food pantry, homeless and hospital ministries, and other service-learning activities at the college. Service Day is just one dimension of PUC’s commitment to community involvement.

Since last school year and throughout the summer, Director of Student Involvement Niq Ruud and Service Learning Director Tuwan Ussery White have been planning this event. With many elements that Service Day entails, Ruud facilitated the internal aspects while White dealt with the external elements of the program.

One of White’s responsibilities was connecting with community partners to inform them about Service Day and express students’ eagerness to perform service duties at their agencies. White and his team anticipated having many students involved—which they did with an incredible turnout.

PUC collaborates with several agencies, such as UpValley, Providence Health, St. Helena Hospital, Napa Resource Conservation District, Tug McGraw Veterans Home, Adventist Health, California State Parks, the City of St. Helena, and OLE Health.

At UpValley, students went to Calistoga to work in the yards of retirees and seniors. Students raked leaves, did some planting and landscaping work, and moved boxes. In partnership with Napa Health, other students participated in Narcan presentations since they are trying to raise awareness of substance abuse-related issues in the community.

Two other examples from Service Day included students working with the Yountville Veterans Home to provide health assistant services at the agency. Students also prepared for the St. Helena harvest festival production, conducted inventories, worked to maintain various trails, helped clean up an Indigenous American plant garden, and assisted with other outdoor projects.

“The agencies that we partnered with last year—we’ve been able to continue to strengthen those relationships this year, and we want to continue to keep those relationships strong next year,” said White. “This is something we plan to do every year, once a year, with service learning.”

When White communicated with their community partners afterward, they told him the students exceeded their expectations. This feedback strengthens these relationships and ensures the long-term commitment to this event.

White visited the different Service Day project sites and saw first-hand how PUC students assisted vulnerable populations and retirees. It warmed his heart to see students give back to older generations.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see younger people helping out older people and really appreciating them like that,” White said. “I think that really fits in with the biblical narrative that we are our brothers' keeper and that it’s more a blessing to give than to receive. It really goes a long way. Not just listening to the spoken word of the Bible, but actually doing like Jesus did—be the living word.”

PUC looks forward to doing Service Day again and plans to do a Health Fair in the spring and once again involve their community partners.