Freshmen Give Back to Community

(L-R) Freshmen Austin Chase and Miles Wallace help clear land to plant a shade garden at Global Growers. Photo: Omar López Thismón

With a service requirement of 40 hours by the time a Pace student graduates, it is important for them to get involved in service early. This way students are not scrambling to complete the hours as their senior year ends. On Oct. 11, the Class of 2021 was introduced to service at Pace through Freshman Community Engagement Day.

Organized by ICGL Associate Director Zeena Lattouf and Freshman Transitions Coordinator Lee Wilson, the day involved freshmen traveling to various places around Atlanta to give back to the community. Locations included the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Global Growers, Our House and Bloom Closet. 

Many students helped out at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, where they sorted through food and other donated items, checked expiration dates and packaged the goods into boxes to be distributed to families in need. “I thought the Food Bank was really fun,” said freshman Sophia Ellis. “I liked helping out my community alongside my classmates.” Food Bank has been a popular service project at Pace for many years. The Community Engagement Day organizers hope that when freshmen are exposed to these service opportunities early on, they will want to do more throughout the year during their free time.

Another group of students visited Global Growers, a project unfamiliar to many Pace students. Global Growers is a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta. According to their website, Global Growers “is the only organization in Georgia that connects the agricultural talent of the local refugee community to opportunities in sustainable agriculture.” The project makes land available to refugees who can then plant various crops and harvest them for their families or to sell to markets.

The goal is to educate the refugees and help them get a head start once they enter the United States. Many refugees involved with Global Growers escaped from Myanmar and Bhutan. Students helped clear small plots of land at the organization’s Decatur Kitchen Garden and were able to meet some of the refugees. “We helped to create gardens for the refugees,” said freshman Marc Rosenthal. “It was a lot of physical work, but it was definitely worth it.”

This is the first year that Our House has been an opportunity on Community Engagement Day. The organization is described on their website as “the only one of its kind in metro Atlanta, giving the most vulnerable families – homeless families with newborns – a place specifically designed for them to thrive.” Areas of assistance include housing services, family services, early childhood education and employment training services. Pace students who traveled there got to interact with the kids in various ways. “I loved playing with all of the little kids,” said freshman Sidney Funston. “We took them to the playground, colored with them and helped them do puzzles.”

Bloom Closet recently became a Pace Community Engagement project, led by juniors Madeline Arenth and Leah Mautner. Bloom Closet helps out underprivileged kids who are in foster care with clothing, baby supplies, books and school supplies. Director of Admissions Jennifer McGurn led a group of students here. “Before arriving at Bloom, we engaged in a discussion about the store, who it serves and its mission,” said Mrs. McGurn. “After we arrived, we were given a tour of the store and I think that was helpful for us to understand the importance of our service that day.”

Freshmen who traveled here helped to sort the clothing donations, as well as bond with each other while working hard for a great cause. “Bloom Closet was inspiring as it made me more grateful for the clothes in my closet and the resources to which I have easy access,” said freshman Darren Rosing. “After witnessing how much work it takes to assemble and provide even just one outfit, I am more aware of how privileged I am.”