By: Sarah Rowan, Contributing Writer
Two groups of students, one with Corinne DeRoberts, coordinator of community service, and one with Joyce Herold, coordinator for off-campus student services, traveled into the greater Towson community to give back on Friday, Sept. 4.
Since 2012, Towson University’s Office of Student Activities has sponsored First Fridays, a small-group community service opportunity.
DeRoberts created this event when she noticed a lack of volunteer opportunities for students who prefer small groups.
“When I came here first, we only had large events like The Big Event in the spring,” she says. “There was no way for folks who prefer small groups to volunteer, so I created First Fridays as an easy way for students to volunteer in a small group.”
The group with DeRoberts went to Edenwald Retirement Community, the other to Towson Manor Village.
At Edenwald, student volunteers participated in a wide variety of activities throughout the day. The retirement community relies solely on volunteers to get their work done, and the students came in prepared to do whatever was needed to assist the community that day.
“Community voice, or community need, is number one,” DeRoberts said. “We ask, ‘where will we be of most assistance?’ We do not assume that they need anything, and we do whatever is needed, from stuffing envelopes to playing Bingo with the residents. Our goal is to do no harm and to leave the place better than we found it.”
The second group, led by Herold to Towson Manor Village, focused more on neighborhood cleanup in the community immediately surrounding campus.
Herold’s goal in leading this portion of First Fridays was to get students who live in off-campus neighborhoods to give back by picking up trash, weeding and putting in an overall effort to make the neighborhood look nice and clean.
The student volunteers spent the afternoon in the community clearing the streets and sidewalks of trash and weeding at Towson Manor Park, located at the corner of Maryland and Susquehanna avenues.
Towson Manor Village resident Karen Cicmanec explained that the service is very important to her neighborhood.
“We have a connection with the Towson students and we are proud of our community,” she said. “I think it helps us feel more like a community, because in our urban areas we sometimes forget one another.”
Taylor Darden, a second-year graduate student studying counseling psychology, recognized the event’s benefits to the community as well.
DeRoberts hopes that through the year, students can begin to understand that they are part of a bigger community that extends beyond Towson University.
“There’s a bigger world out there that exists, and students can help make an impact on that world, whether it’s here in Towson, in Baltimore or back home,” Darden said.