Students Reach Out to the Community

First winter quarter Service Day leaves lasting impressions

By: Marcie Anglen & Becky St. Clair

Miller says a word of prayer with the ladies he met on Service Day.

Until this year, WWU’s Spiritual Life and Missions office sponsored only fall and spring quarter Service Days. This year, they decided to add one in winter quarter, too. It turned out to be a great idea, because on Sunday, January 20, over seventy students, staff, and faculty were out in the snow signing up to help the people in their community. Tyrell Miller, freshman nursing major, was among them.

Miller was involved with several projects on Service Day but one project in particular really touched him.

Miller and his friend, Jonathan Ball, senior aviation management major, signed up to visit the Good Samaritan Home in Milton-Freewater, Ore. Their project included visiting with five elderly ladies.

"Meeting these ladies and hearing their stories was definitely an enriching experience," says Ball.

One of the ladies, Violet Wella, had just celebrated her 106th birthday. To celebrate, Wella and her best friend (who is 96 years old), went out and had sushi for the first time.

Along with Wella, Miller and Ball met four other elderly ladies: Grandma Sager, Grandma Gerri, and Eleanor. "What a wonderful experience!” says Miller. “Each one of them was excited when we arrived. Their faces lit up, and it was apparent that they really enjoyed having new people to talk to.”

Miller was fascinated by the amount of change that each of the women had witnessed in her life. Violet has seen everything from the first cars ever produced, to World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the first moon landing, Elvis, and the Beatles.

“The list just goes on and on!” Miller says with a laugh. “It's almost surreal to look into the same eyes that witnessed all of these historical events,” he adds.

After such a great experience on Service Day, Miller wants to encourage everyone to take a few minutes to stop by and visit an elderly person.

“Whether it’s a grandparent or maybe just an acquaintance you haven't seen in a while, your visit or phone call will make a world of difference,” he says. “Let's not keep activities like these confined to one Service Day per quarter. Let's make a habit of loving those around us."

For more information about WWU Service Days, call Ellie Veverka at 509-527-2102. For more information about the Good Samaritan Home, call director Patricia McDowell-Brooks at 541-938-7667.

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