From volunteering in local elementary schools to creating an NNU encouragement wall, raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital to organizing events to connect students, first-semester students have found ways to foster community on and off campus with their Cornerstone service projects. Last week they hosted an exhibition in the Learning Commons to share their projects with the campus community.
One class outlined a plan for creating a community garden. “It will be located on campus but impacting the greater Nampa community,” said freshman Benjamin Weaver. Currently the garden consists of a bookshelf of herbs, but the team is asking permission to use a section of campus for a larger garden to increase its impact.
Another group connected with high school students and veterans in the Boise Valley. They invited students from local high schools to a NNU men’s basketball game. For one can of food, these high school students could spend the evening cheering on the Nighthawks and getting to know NNU students. The canned food was then donated to the Idaho Veterans Home in Boise.
“It was a cool way to step out of our NNU bubble to help and connect with others,” remarked social work major Robyn O’Donahue. “A way to show veterans there are kids in the community that care about them. To show them they’re not forgotten.”
Also striving to help people in the local community, one class decided they wanted to help those who are experiencing homelessness or struggling to make ends meet. This desire led them to partner with Nampa First Church of the Nazarene to clean and paint a house that will be converted into a low-cost medical clinic in Nampa. Painting the house allowed insurance money to be released for work needed inside the building.
Of the experience, Isabelle Perez said, “You don’t realize what’s going on in your community until you’re in it. When we saw the houses, it became more real. I couldn’t believe people lived there and paid rent for it!”
After their painting project, Isabelle and her class served at the Nampa First’s soup kitchen, allowing them to meet the population the clinic will help. “It was awesome being able to meet a direct need in the community and meet the people you're impacting,” she added.
This project is one piece of Cornerstone, a first-semester course introducing students to an NNU education. In the course, students hear from professors from academic disciplines across campus to learn the ways each disciplines’ work serves the world here and now. They also attend a variety of campus events, engage with special speakers, complete service activities and personal transformation projects, and outline a plan for a service project they might pursue in future semesters.