The Challenge Of Community Work
Start writing a post

The Challenge Of Community Work

Guilford College Changes Lives

The Challenge Of Community Work
Guilford College Bonner Love

Guilford College proves every day how important it is to put ideas about justice and stewardship into practice. In particular, Guilford does a fabulous job with community work (with the resources available). The Bonner Program is operated by just a few staff members (James Shields, Andrew Young and Susan May) as well as dozens of students. Some students, the Bonner Scholars, come to the school on scholarships designed for lower tuition with the agreement to complete many hours of community work. The Bonner Scholars must complete 140 hours of community work per semester, each! Other students, Community Scholars, sign up to complete work study through service work and the school pays them for the hours of community work completed.

I say "community work" because, in JPS 103 Community Problem Solving class I came to understand that "service" is a very limited term. Community work can be more inclusive than service work because it implies a mutual exchange, rather than simply coming in and providing a service. By this I mean, offering food or English lessons as service may be helpful but offering companionship, a listening ear, brainstorming and give-and-take can be much more fulfilling and helpful enterprises. This class (JPS 103), which is currently taught by Sherry Giles, Krista Craven and Aleks Babic, requires students to complete 30 hours of community work through Bonner. Jackie Carr is a student who has accepted the difficult job of working as a TA for these classes, helping coordinate between students and community site coordinators.

I was wondering what kinds of challenges or insights Bonner members may have regarding community work, so I talked with two people who focus much of their time on improving community work experience:

Mara Stern '16 is one of this years Senior Bonner Interns and she says that she became a Bonner Scholar as a Sophomore. We talked about how one of the biggest challenges faced with doing community work is to make sure that it is helpful. Good intentions are not enough. Some sites are difficult to enter and understand properly in order to help. Mara says, "make sure to reassess and be committed to serve rather than just go into a community expecting immediate results." She touts a need to really comprehend the unique situation of people involved at sites in order to make sure to offer the proper assistance. Community work is very important for personal growth as well. Mara likes to think of a quote by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund when trying to describe this concept: "Service is the rent we pay for living."

Susan May, who organizes the Community Scholar coordination, comments on the practical difficulties of community work,

Although it may be at times a challenge for students to arrange their schedules, once they decide to commit to a service site it usually becomes a workable and meaningful part of their life. It is very doable for all students, even athletes, can find time to participate in service.

But she also notes some challenges related to understanding of community work itself: "It can be challenging for people to confront their own personal prejudices and stereotypes and also to wake up to the realities that many people suffer and the realities of social injustice or pain." She urges students to "accept your limitations as well as your strengths."

In my search for information about what the Bonner Program needs to improve the impact on the community, I found one answer in Susan's comment, "Often it is challenging to get to the sites, because Guilford College does not offer a means of transportation." As a former TA for JPS 103, I understand this frustration. There are approximately 40 Bonner sites and the transportation is worked out by a system of carpooling in which students who have cars must offer up time as drivers and the school reimburses for gas money. While this is a very environmentally friendly method, it is sometimes difficult as any one site may have 15 different students attending over the course of the week. For example, the YWCA Teen Parent Mentor Program has carpools leaving twice a night on some days as the Parent Mentor part starts earlier than the part where you look after the children of the Teen Parents.

Despite the hassles involved in getting out to sites and really doing some good in the world, the work is fulfilling. It benefits the students who are doing the work by helping them, in Susan May's words, "to become civic minded and carry this wherever they go."

Thank you for reading and I hope this inspires you to go out and become a volunteer!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection


Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments