By Wendy Byrnes, Berkeley Center
As new students settled in this past semester, they fully embraced the idea of being the change they seek in the world. Students completed nearly 200 hours of community service, doing everything from serving meals to the homeless, cleaning up the local shoreline, manning phone lines for a local radio station’s fundraising blitz, writing letters to soldiers, preparing cards for seniors and becoming certified in First Aid in order to assist others in times of need.
The great comedienne; Lily Tomlin once quipped, “I wondered why someone wasn’t doing something about that and then I realized that I was someone.” Students got to see that even small gestures can make a big difference in the lives of others and that they certainly became “someone” when they reached out to help. They also enjoyed camaraderie and got to know each other a bit better by stepping out of their comfort zones while learning new things about their fellow man and environment. Many students put in incredible effort to express words of comfort to soldiers that might be experiencing feelings of homesickness much akin to the way they may have felt when they first arrived at CIP. Students have closely monitored a brightly colored poster at the center that is tracking everyone’s accomplishments and spurred students to take the initiative to participate in local activities on their own.
Community Service remains an integral part of the CIP program because it builds skills and provides many opportunities for students to expand horizons. On inauguration day, one student remarked that we were already way ahead of the game as our new president asked citizens to look at ways to serve our fellow man through volunteerism. Returning students have inquired about the “fun” they will have this semester digging into new adventures that build bigger hearts and better communities because they are a part of it.