Volunteering in Pullman is important, makes strong students

Community service builds new connections, relieves stress, could reduce poverty



Serving your community is a good way to meet new people, reduce stress and help those in need.

ERIC SIMPSON, Evergreen columnist

Volunteering has always been an important part of every community, big or small. It helps bring people closer together and create new connections that otherwise may not have existed.

I urge every student at WSU to go out and volunteer within the Pullman or greater Palouse area for at least one hour. We should strive to give back to the community that does so much to support our school.

The benefits to community service are numerous. Not only does it build fellowship with your neighbors and peers, leading to connections and networking opportunities, but it is also good for your health.

Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that “stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” according to Rodlescia Sneed in the Harvard Health Blog.

Often, students report high stress as one of the major problems they deal with in college. Community service should be an obvious choice to deal with that stress. Sadly, a popular way they deal with that stress seems to be nights out partying and drinking, according to a study of common problems for college students done by Student Monitor.

If every beer a student had was one hour of community service within the Palouse, we would be living in paradise.

A great way to start your “one beer, one hour” is to go volunteer at the Community Action Center, a group dedicated to fighting poverty within the Pullman area as well as Whitman County.

“Poverty in Pullman is an interesting issue, it’s there, it’s just more hidden,” CAC employee Joe Astorino said.

Since its founding in 1988 the CAC has been a resource for over 11,000 people, according to its website, serving about 26 percent of all the residents within Whitman County.

“About one-fourth of our clients [visiting the CAC] are students from WSU,” Astorino said.

Cougs help Cougs, and what better way to show this spirit than by helping those in need within the community and serving the students who need assistance. Students should get out of the little campus bubble and find their place in the community — there is so much more to Pullman than WSU and every student should experience it.

“Getting out of the classes and into the community is the best way to know each other,” said Dustin Van Orman, teaching assistant of educational psychology.

Van Orman teaches UNIV 497, a global leadership course. As a required activity in the class students have to complete a service activity, and I could not have thought of a better way to learn about myself, my community and my classmates. Working alongside them and helping each other improve our town gave me a new perspective on the value of giving back.

All students should take part in a similar activity to help themselves, their community and their fellow Cougs.

So let’s start our “one beer, one hour” escapade by helping each other out and improving our town. Who knows, maybe by the end of this year we could make a lasting mark on this humble town and diminish stress and drinking among students.

If you are curious about how you can get more involved, you can contact the Center for Community Engagement or the Community Action Center directly if you would like to volunteer.