For a February day, Flagler College faculty, staff and students couldn’t ask for better weather to volunteer with local community organizations for the college’s biannual day of service on Saturday. Approximately 150 individuals assisted a dozen organizations across the county.
“It’s great to help out the community you live in,” student Natalia Azcue said as she helped paint interior walls at United Way. “And when you do, you can really see the difference it makes. For some of us who have scholarships, this is a nice way to give back (to our college and community).”
Azcue, a student athlete on Flagler’s Golf team, joined Saturday’s effort as part of the college’s “Reach Out Raise Up” day of service. Volunteers completed a range of tasks, from painting and organizing the interior of buildings to sprucing up outdoor spaces, clearing debris and gardening.
Organizations taking part in the day included: Alpha Omega Miracle Home, Betty Griffin Center, Council on Aging, Haven Horse Ranch, Home Again St. Johns, SAFE Pet Rescue St. Augustine, Rhino’s Youth Services, St. Augustine Center for Living, St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Johns Parks and Recreation, United Way and Wildlife Reserve.
Jenny Harvey, director of Administration for United Way, expressed her gratitude for the college’s help. Eight students, clad in their “Reach Out Raise Up” T-shirts, showed up Saturday morning ready to take on whatever the organization needed.
“We started painting the inside of the building back in 2014, but have not been able to do a second coat until now,” Harvey said. “For Flagler to come do this, it’s a great morale booster for the office. It gives us a facelift, which helps us better serve the community. We simply could not do this kind of work without volunteers.”
Volunteer Coordinator Amy Leach, of St. Augustine’s Council on Aging, couldn’t agree more.
“Non-profits rely heavily on volunteers,” she said. “By students coming here and helping us out, it helps our participants better enjoy the outdoors and garden space. And this also gives students the opportunity to learn new skills and better understand the issues facing seniors.”
COA offers adult day care services, meals and activities for senior citizens across five community centers in St. Johns County.
Flagler student Marwan Shatila helped on Saturday by refurbishing wood for COA’s outdoor picnic tables.
“I’ve always been about helping people out,” the Business Administration and Economics major said. “You can never do too much good in the community. I’m really happy Flagler encourages this. I’m stoked to be here.”
Saturday’s event was the college’s third day of service. The inaugural “Reach Out Raise Up” was held a year ago. Paige Armstrong, president of Flagler College Volunteers, helped launch it.
“This kind of event is important for personal development and service learning,” Armstrong said. “And also because organizations we serve rely on volunteer labor to function.”