“Volunteers For Change” Lead Holy Cross Students in Local Service Learning Projects

A welcome dinner was hosted by Mt. Zion AME Church.

The Volunteers For Change (VFC) Alternative Break program, a program of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. (SERCAP) located in downtown Roanoke, provides year-round opportunities for service-learning experiences. The VFC program partners with several community host sites including churches, community centers, and non-profits in SERCAP’s service region to host these weekend and week-long experiences.

The host sites that partner with SERCAP identify projects in need of assistance in their community and provide meals and lodging for the student volunteers. These service-learning experiences are meant to foster a cultural exchange as well as a deeper understanding of social issues. In addition to assisting a community host site with specific projects, meeting new people, and learning about a new culture and place, these experiences often inspire students to get involved in their own communities.

During the week of March 3rd– March 9th, as part of the VFC Alternative Break program, a group of twenty college student volunteers from the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA) volunteered with Mt. Zion AME Church. Revered Amy Ziglar of Mt. Zion AME Church coordinated an engaging and thoughtful week of service between the student volunteers and the community.

The volunteers helped with food preparation and serving at the Roanoke Rescue MIssion.

As part of their week of service, the volunteers worked at the Rescue Mission in addition to Mt. Zion AME Church. At the Rescue Mission, they assisted with food services, donation processing, and housekeeping and shared meals with community members.

At Mt. Zion AME Church, Reverend Ziglar worked with the student volunteers to design and begin installation of gardens for the front of the church, a project that she aptly named “Operation Beautification.” The volunteers participated in a community clean-up in the Northwest neighborhood and assisted with maintenance and repairs at the church, including painting projects.

The volunteers also shared meals, stories, and life experiences with members of the church. Reverend Ziglar served as a mentor for the student volunteers and made sure the students had a meaningful week of service that they will remember when they return to their own communities. Although their time in Roanoke was short, the memories made during the week will last a lifetime.

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