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April 28, 2008

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School of Communication

CSU volunteers roll up their
sleeves for Do-Gooder Day

The City Year 'PT,' or physical training, team demonstrates moves for Do-Gooder
Day volunteers to follow. City Year engages in physical training twice a week to
exhibit a sense of unity.

By Audrey McCrone

Optimistic thoughts that went ‘Rain, rain, stay away’ prevailed on April 19 for the fourth annual Do-Gooder Day.
Weather reports predicted showers in the Greater Cleveland area for around 2:00 p.m. “But they’re usually off by two hours,” said Blake Almaguer, president of the Student Government Association during the opening ceremony at the Urban Affairs Atrium.
Before volunteers grouped to depart for their respective sites, they engaged in ‘PT’(physical training) led by four City Year volunteers. They jumped around, swung arms and legs and rotated their upper torsos like cheerleaders at a pep rally.
Volunteers were pumped for the work ahead, thanks to a continental breakfast (bagels, pastries, coffee and juice, courtesy of the Center for Leadership and Service, the SGA and City Year), groups of volunteers met near posted location fliers.
City Year, SGA and Center for Leadership and Service people coordinated with volunteers in small groups about how to get to their designated places, figuring out who needed a ride and who drove to campus.
“We have a partnership with City Year to do service,” said the Manager of the Center for Leadership and Service Paul Putnam.
Then each group ‘circled up,’ hands piling on top of each other in the center of the groups like a football team’s huddle and chant, for a ‘spirit break.’
The CSU Chapter of the Golden Key contributed two volunteers, including yours truly, to the 70 CSU students who participated in the day of community service.
This Stater reporter was all set to get dirty by “cleaning, mulching and planting flower beds, painting a staircase, and possible work in a residence garden,” according to the Center for Leadership and Service.
I was part of the Saint Augustine Health Campus team (one of six groups), slated to work at Detroit Avenue and West 78 Street in Cleveland. The CSU St. Augustine team followed the City Year St. Augustine team to the site.
As we set out in my messy white Dodge Neon, I explained to fellow Golden Keyer Courtney Zemkosky, a junior majoring in health sciences, and Debbie Holman, a senior majoring in early childhood education, that I refuse to litter.
We joined our three City Year counterparts in the parking lot. We were the first volunteers to arrive at St. Augustine Manor.
Director of Life Enrichment Laura Derose, who met us on the sidewalk, said she expected 50 volunteers in total. She led us inside and up the stairs and through a maze of hallways to a recreation room, explaining along the way that, between the Home Family Home and the St. Augustine Towers, the facility cares for almost 350 residents.
One of the City Year volunteers, who only identified herself as Sandy, suggested that we outline the lettering of a banner that was laid out on a long table, using black markers. The sign said “Welcome City Heroes,” in yellow and red marker, which are the City Year colors. Sandy said the City Heroes volunteers, area teenagers and adults, are part of City Year, just as City Year is a part of AmeriCorps.
We also set up tables in a room where we would later eat lunch. Soon, nearly 30 young people filed into the recreation room. Sandy said they had to take the bus to get to the facility.
Derose picked 10 volunteers to go to the towers, so we were separated into two groups. Everyone was instructed to go back downstairs and meet in the front living room for a group picture.
A large, plastic trash can held rakes and brooms, and people bumped into it as they passed through the entrance of the room to go outside. So, I grabbed the handle and dragged it outside with me.
A little downtime and some confusion began to set in, as everyone stood around on the sidewalk in front of the building.
No one was quite sure where they would be working, or where to start. I asked Derose where Zemkosky, Holman and I could get started and she pointed to the parking lot. She said to go through the fence, and that would be where we should work.
The three of us grabbed rakes and a broom, and we headed through a security gate and began to rake and sweep around a garden area that was under construction.
Within 10 minutes, Derose came by and said she meant for us to go through a gate further down the drive, and she led everyone in our group to the lawn along the rear of the facility. She said that the house to the left of us also belonged to the manor, too.
Everyone tried to get to raking and sweeping the lawn, but we didn’t have enough rakes, brooms and dustpans to go around. We had about 500 yards of lawn to clean up.
At one point, about a half an hour into my mad raking, I counted everyone to see how many of us were actually working. Only five, including Zemkosky, Holman and me, out of 16, were working. There was not enough equipment to go around.
Holman and I exchanged frustrated glances as the City Heroes (teenagers) laughed and carried on.
I grew physically and figuratively hot, wanting a drink of water and a cigarette. I walked toward the parking lot to find my car, and I passed Derose and her husband on the way. “They need a pep talk,” I said, “and I’m going to get a smoke. I’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” she said.
I returned a few minutes later and found a cooler with a tap, and it was filled with water, so I drank a cup of it. Then, I helped Zemkosky bag two piles of leaves before reclaiming my rake and resuming my labor.
By lunchtime, our team was finished with the main part of the lawn we were assigned to. All that was left was the lawn of the house the manor owned.
For lunch, we had hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, cookies and sodas. Holman, Zemkosky, three City Heroes and I shared a table, and our conversations lifted our spirits. Everyone seemed to be in a better mood.
We finished the job 45 minutes earlier than our scheduled end time of 2:30 p.m. Everyone circled up, and then we returned to the room where we ate lunch for our closing ceremony.
I drove Holman and Zemkosky back to the campus area. Holman said she was used to doing yard work. Zemkosky said she would like to volunteer more.
Well, as for me, it’s just another volunteer service. But I met some nice people.

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