It’s hot out. What seems like a never ending heat wave has been holding Philadelphia hostage for a few weeks now; the good news is it looks like it’s set to end soon.
As the weather cools off, many of us will surely breach the confines of our student quarters and resume spending time outdoors. The question is, what’s the best way to make use of the warm summer days you have left? We’ve got one suggestion for you: get involved with your community.
No, we don’t mean your community in terms of Drexel University, rather the West Philadelphia community as a whole. Our University City campus connects with two neighborhoods that make up what President Obama identified in January 2014 as a Promise Zone — Mantua and Powelton Village. Promise Zones are areas that have been highlighted as extremely impoverished where the federal government partners with local leaders to do things like increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime and enhance public health.
Drexel University in one such local leader that has committed itself to forming and encouraging programs that get students involved with the surrounding West Philadelphia community. With a little help to obtain the proper resources, the goal is that residents will be able to lift themselves out of poverty. The University has made it not only possible but easy for students to get involved in this movement.
You can start by joining clubs that work with community members every week. Take Drexel Urban Growers (DUG), for instance. Their club consists of a network of both students and community residents, all of which learn the basics of gardening as it pertains to growing fresh produce with optimal nutrition. They run Community Harvest Days, volunteer activities at urban farms around Philly and host community picnics where students get to know members of the community.
As Philadelphia kids go back to school, the Lindy Scholars program will need tutors again. Their organization pairs Drexel students up with local kids up to three times a week to work on subjects like math, writing and reading. It’s an easy way to serve as a mentor and make a difference in your surrounding community.
You can also get involved at places like the Dornsife Center, which partners with Drexel students and faculty to create learning programs and provide a gathering space where local residents can get to know members of Drexel’s community firsthand. Or UConnect, which helps community members find the resources they need when they don’t know where else to turn to, no matter the problem.
The point is, there are many ways that you as a Drexel student can make a difference in Philadelphia. Just keep in mind that your community extends further than this campus.