At the start of the school year, first lady Michelle Obama gave George Washington University a challenge: If the campus community logged 100,000 hours of volunteer service by May, she would speak at the school’s graduation ceremony on the Mall.
Time for FLOTUS to start drafting her speech. On Monday, the university will announce that it has met the goal, with nearly a month to spare.
More than 3,800 students, faculty, staff and even trustees took up the call. They dug their Foggy Bottom neighbors out of the snow after winter blizzards, spent spring break helping to rebuild New Orleans, gave a D.C. high school a makeover, led a Brownie troop, helped low-income families navigate government agencies to obtain critical services, taught Sudanese refugees in Nashville and organized a prom for the elderly in the District.
“We thought we could do it, and we did it,” said Helen Cannaday Saulny, the school’s vice president for student and academic support services. “It has been really inspiring to see our students, faculty and staff embrace this challenge.”
WATCH GWU STUDENTS SERVE THE DC COMMUNITY IN RESPONSE TO THE FIRST LADY’S CHALLENGE
Bishara Addison, a senior in political science, logged more than 300 hours this school year. She took an alternative spring-break trip and volunteered at LIFT-DC, a student-run nonprofit organization that helps low-income families find work, secure housing and apply for public assistance, among other services.
“I love the one-on-one client service. I love that I can build relationships with my clients,” she said. “I love the small achievements and wins” she helps clients make.
Divya Chalikonda, a sophomore, volunteered for more than 115 hours and led an alternative winter-break trip to New Orleans. She helped build a house in New Orleans during spring break. Corbb O’Connor, a senior, didn’t realize until December that the hours he spent advocating for the blind and teaching at a camp for blind high school students could count toward the challenge. His total was 89.
“I never thought of it as public service. I do it because it’s just something I do,” said O’Connor, who is blind. “I haven’t met anyone who went from zero to a hundred hours because of the challenge. A lot of people were already doing something.”
What else happened during those 100,000 hours?
Money was raised for Haitian earthquake relief. Theodore Roosevelt High School in Northwest Washington was fixed up by painting hallways, cleaning stairwells and beautifying the grounds. Volunteers hung out with residents of the Vinson Hall Retirement Community.
“There has been a lot of talk about the ‘Me Generation,’ ” Saulny said. “But I think we are seeing students say, ‘It’s not really all about me.’ It’s part of their development.”
Continue to the full article at The Washington Post website.