Members of Drexel residence halls were paired with volunteer community sites near campus in a partnership that officially started with a “Block Build” Oct. 8 for Rebuilding Together Philadelphia.
President John A. Fry has consistently encouraged students to participate in community service and would like Drexel to be one of the most civically engaged universities in the nation.
Reeba Monachan, the assistant director of community development and engagement for the Residential Living Office, worked with Seth Jacobson, the program director at the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, to establish partnerships that will encourage civic service and to promote a culture of service among students.
By providing convenient, familiar service sites, they hope to increase the number of students who actively give back to the community. Drexel encourages community development, and with the recent partnerships, students have an opportunity to broaden their community beyond campus borders.
Among the many organizations in Philadelphia in need of help, partner sites were chosen for specific reasons.
“They need fundraising or volunteers or other resources, and they need them in a way that we would be able to provide them,” Monachan said.
Organizations were also chosen based on proximity to campus with focus kept on those in the Powelton Village and Mantua areas.
All resident assistants are required to participate and are instructed to encourage excitement and elicit involvement from their residents.
Liza Rubin, a junior psychology major, works as a Drexel Community Scholar and team leader of the Hunger and Homelessness Coalition at the Lindy Center and is also the head RA at Kelly Hall. She is highly involved in the new partnerships, encouraging all Drexel students, specifically residents of Kelly, to engage in community service.
“It really adds another dimension to our education here at Drexel, just seeing the impact it has on the students and also on our community. I think it can really open their eyes to other possibilities to career paths or interests that they never would have been exposed to otherwise,” she said.
Not only does participating in community service help the people of Philadelphia, but it helps to reinforce the community building that takes place in the residence halls themselves. Rubin explained how strong relationships are built when residents work together.
“It’s nice to see it on your own floor, with your own residents. It adds a new dimension to the whole thing. I know that it provided them with a great bonding experience, they were able to really share something special,” she said.
Along with the rest of the Kelly Hall staff members, Rubin is working on a project called “Listen for Lombard” that allows students to host low-cost concerts benefitting Philadelphia soup kitchens and local talented musicians.
Like other RAs in The Axis, Jim Filer, a junior health sciences major, has previously worked with his hall’s partner site, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, to renovate or rebuild houses. Working with RTP allowed Filer and others to teach families how to make renovations themselves.
“By getting involved, especially with RTP, you feel a connection to the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding community. If you put your work into helping others and into helping the community … it will enhance your time at Drexel,” he said.
Staff members at Caneris Hall and University Crossings are also working with The Axis employees to raise money for future RTP projects.
Residents who want to get involved with their residence hall’s partner site should contact their RA or resident director. Additional civic engagement opportunities can be accessed through the Lindy Center’s website at www.drexel.edu/LindyCenter.