Nearly 20 students donned safety vests and gloves on a recent Saturday morning to join Rotary of Rockingham County efforts to serve the community through highway clean up.
“I just want to drop you a note and let you know how much I enjoyed the EMHS students Saturday,” wrote Alan Shelton, retired senior food scientist formerly at Cargill and active volunteer and Rotarian in Harrisonburg.
“They were a great group of young men and women,” he continued. “They had that certain spirit that you really like to see in that type of group. Their sponsors and their school should be very proud of these fine young people.”
The group picked up trash along Buttermilk Creek Road, north of campus. Charles Hendricks, of Gaines Group Architects, active member of the Rotary Club of Rockingham County, and EMS dad, served as a contact for We Serve with Rotary.
We Serve is an Interact Club of Rotary International, which is the high school version of Rotary. There are 20,372 clubs worldwide, and “it is one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of Rotary service,” according to Hendricks. The Rotary Club of Rockingham County serves as the We Serve Club sponsor. There are almost 468,556 young people involved in Interact worldwide.
“Thank you for organizing the group to assist in the highway cleanup,” Hendricks wrote to Anissa Gregory ’22, We Serve co-chair.
“I am especially grateful for your leadership… I know from personal experience that you have to put in a ton of hours that often get unnoticed. Putting ‘service above self’ is an amazing way to create a better world for others. Your leadership is a powerful example for others.”
We Serve provides opportunities for students to get involved in the community while having fun together, and, as Hendricks noted, develop leadership skills. The group also does service for and within the school. At homecoming weekend, for example, two members sat with older alumni at a breakfast program to visit and help carry their plates, running the dishwasher afterward.
We Serve members also serve as hosts for prospective students and families.
The group planned monthly service projects before the school year even began, says club sponsor, Marsha Thomas, admissions counselor. In September, they spearheaded a shoe drive for a program in Kenya that provides widowed women a chance to earn an income.
Next up for We Serve, a food drive for Patchwork Pantry, an ecumenical effort housed at Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg. Patchwork Pantry provides a a three-day supply of staple food to those in need in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Donations for the We Serve food drive can be dropped off at the school’s upper building front office at 801 Parkwood Drive, Harrisonburg.