Thursday clubs provide spring community service opportunities

Following the focus on increased participation in community service during April’s Speaker Assembly, many new service opportunities have been opened to students. The featured speakers from the Minneapolis Foundation specifically talked about finding community service opportunities based on individual interests and passions. Recently, both clubs and advisories have followed up by taking time to organize service field trips to help a cause the group has chosen and feels strongly about helping.


PAWS trip

Submitted photo: Peter Daniels
NO PLACE LIKE THE ZOO. PAWS members pose in the zoo enclosure they helped clean in preparation for spring.

On May 8, the People for Animal Welfare and Safety club (PAWS) organized a field trip to the Como Zoo. The field trip was almost entirely organized by Presidents Lark Smith and Ski Li Griffiths. The field trip took 11 students to the Como Zoo to help clean the polar bear and bird exhibits in the morning.

PAWS faculty advisor Peter Daniels has been a part of the club for two years and has helped both organize and supervise the trip.

“I would say Lark Smith planned everything, this was her idea with the co-president of PAWS, Ski Li. But really because this is senior project time, Lark knew that this fit into her senior project idea so she really made it happen and brought a lot of people along with it. So some of that background planning involved sending lots of emails back and forth with the volunteer coordinator and the Como Zoo and getting it accepted by the school since it wasn’t a regular day of service, it was during the school day,” Daniels said.

The group was able to help the Como Zoo by preparing the zoo for the summer season and the raking students did allowed the birds to move to a larger, outdoor area.

“We split into groups of 5 and we raked leaves in the Koodo exhibit in the Como Zoo and then another group moved rocks in the polar bear exhibit,” Daniels said.

The trip increased awareness for students of what some of the conditions were actually like for animals living in the zoo after seeing what the zoo is like behind the scenes.

“When we were able to see the installations and the places where the animals live and we were able to go behind the scenes and see some of the evening cages they had, they were really small, really bleak, looked like a prison. Without having the magic from what they do at the zoo, it looks more like a natural habitat, it was pretty sad, some of the students said that it was sad to see how some animals spend much of their life. But at the same time, we wanted to give back to support animals and their welfare because we know through their volunteer service, there’s a little bit of a difference that we can make,” Daniels said.

For some students like 9th grader Jasmine White, the trip provided an inspiration to continue with service in the future.

“It made me want to continue with service because I liked the feeling of being a part of something bigger, especially because I kind of want to be a marine biologist. I also plan on going to Hawaii and work with whales,” White said.


Sachs trip

The Sachs advisory got involved in community service with the Dave Pinto campaign through an immigration law clinic on May 12 at St. Luke’s Lutheran church. Originally the event was to take place in April, but due to the massive blizzard, it was rescheduled. The event focused on helping out Somali families living along West Seventh St. by paring families with a team of attorneys, law students and interpreters.

Assistant Director of College Counseling Andrea Sachs is an active participant in the Dave Pinto campaign and opened the service opportunity up to both her advisory and any other members of the school that were interested.

“I wanted to help anyway because I work on his campaign, so I invited my advisees to help with it because it’s a good way to just learn about people in our community who would need this service and just to look at how an elected official could connect people to services that they need. That it’s not just about getting elected or even passing laws, but that it’s about being a resource for the people in the neighborhood,” Sachs said.

The clinic was free and provided confident legal consultations through by connecting residents with resources for further support.

“The idea was to invite people from the neighborhood in to be a place for them to get good advice and get connected with resources in the community. So there were about 6 or 8 lawyers and a bunch of translators and some law students and it was at a church down by JCC because a lot of the apartments were the immigrants live are right near there, so the idea is that they’ll come in and get paired up with a translator if needed and go into a private room to get the advice that they needed,” Sachs said.

Although not as many students were able to participate in the event due to the rescheduling, it provided a valuable experience for the two who could make it.

“It’s just like any kind of service learning, if you’re there, you’re going to learn about what’s going on and so just because of the way it worked out, Eliza talked to the student at St.Thomas who really did the organizing and her dad was actually one of the translators. There was a lot of time for Kat and Eliza to learn about what was happening on too,” Sachs said.

Junior Eliza Reedy participated in the event mainly by helping out with watching the kids of the adults that came in, but also gained the experience of learning what was going on with the campaign and how it was helping residents.

“I was just there to hang out with kids while their parents were getting legal advice. Not as many people showed up as I thought would because it was kind of a trial run of the event, so there were just three little kids that I hung out with,” Reedy said. “[Although] I wasn’t doing much other than just hanging out with the kids but I did get to meet the representative who is hosting the event, which was cool. I talked to him about why he was doing it and stuff,” Reedy said.


CAS service field trip

Submitted photo: Mollie Ward
WORK AND PLAY. Members of Community Action and Service and adviser Mollie Ward decorate a learning space at Project for Pride in Living.

On May 14, the Community Action and Service club organized a service field trip to the new location of Project for Pride in Living’s New Foundations program in downtown St. Paul. The group worked specifically to help clean and organize children’s spaces.

CAS faculty advisor Mollie Ward worked with junior Mia Litman to organize the event and open it up for other students outside of the club. The trip hosted 8 students and was an opportunity for students to help the organization create a better environment within the building.

“Ms. Ward and I were in communication with the people at Projects for Pride and Living. I reached out to the students and faculty at SPA to make sure that everyone was aware of what we were doing if they wanted to participate,” Litman said

The work the students completed was simple but was successful in delivering a strong impact to the organization.

“We focused on working to make sure that tutoring and play spaces for children without the privilege that we have were available and in the best conditions possible for the kids. We separated into two groups and we were cleaning out play spaces, so we mainly cleaned up toys, washed windows, cleaned yoga mats, separated crayons and organized bookshelves,” Litman said.

9th grader Rashmi Raveendran enjoyed the experience because of the feeling of connection between her work with the organization and its larger impact on the life of someone else.

“My favorite part of the trip was organizing a room where they have younger kids tutored by older students. They had a lot of different resources for the kids so it felt nice to organize it for them so they have a better learning space,” Raveendran said. “I learned that little service things like cleaning a room can actually have a big impact on someone else’s life and it made me want to participate in bigger service opportunities in the future.

Students also learned about the dedication to community service that the worker at the organization held and was inspired to bring a similar idea back to the SPA community to do more as a school to help give back.

“The worker at the Project for Pride and Living told our group that she wanted to take a year of  of her life and focus it mainly on giving back to the community and environment. She said ‘I don’t like what I am seeing today in the world so nothing will change if I don’t contribute to making that change.’ That message is really important and stuck with me because I feel like we, as a school, should be more involved in the community and help to make a change, or at least give back,” Litman said.