Students, faculty, staff and alumni came out to help to strengthen their communities by participating in the 20th annual GIVE (Gannon’s Invitation to Volunteer Everywhere) Day.
This year, GIVE day was part of the International Coastal Cleanup. More than 700 volunteers at 18 sites from Erie Bluff State Park in western Erie County, to 20 Mile Creek near the New York state line, to Edinboro in the south, took the Cleanup to heart, collecting more than 3,000 pounds of trash from areas surrounding our waterways.
Watch a video overview of GIVE day.
A special emphasis this year was on service in the Our West Bayfront (OWB) neighborhoods. Gannon alumni volunteered for OWB’s Neighbor 2 Neighbor Project, lending a little muscle and a lot of smiles to residents’ household projects.
Students, faculty and staff volunteered at Strong Vincent Middle School, which is one of five public schools in the Erie School District to participate in a community school strategy in partnership with United Way of Erie County, Gannon University and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Community schools bring opportunities, resources and social services directly into school buildings for student success.
It’s also a place with a proud tradition of achievement that includes multiple state championships in various sports. GIVE Day volunteers from Gannon’s Honors program cleaned and organized the school’s trophy case, a symbol of Strong Vincent’s 87-year history focal point of community pride.
“The Gannon students were amazing,” said Katrina Byrd, Strong Vincent’s community school director. “They handled everything as though they were in their great grandma’s attic, discovering treasures for the first time.”
First-year physician assistant major, Shae Wilson from North East, Pennsylvania, knows the feeling firsthand. Her grandmother, Janet Wolfe Rizzo, was a baton twirler and library monitor at Strong Vincent in the 1950s. She was part of a crew of Honors students who painted the school’s library. She mentioned her family connection to Strong Vincent principal Jeff Hutchinson, who found a yearbook with her grandmother’s photos.
“She looked a lot like me when she was younger,” Wilson said. “I’d pick up a book and the thought that my grandma might have touched that same book all those years ago gave me a little lump in my throat.”
Ann Bomberger, Ph.D., director of the Honors program and the leader of the painting crew, called GIVE Day, “an important opportunity for faculty and students to work together in a different kind of setting. Honors students are smart, passionate people who are dedicated to improving their communities.”