BECKLEY, W.Va. — They’ve only been in town for a few days, but are already giving back to the community.
Before WVU Tech students start classes at their new Beckley campus, they took time to complete several community service projects Tuesday. Groups could be found at the Beckley Area Foundation, Mountain State Centers for Independent Living and Piney Creek Watershed Association. Several hours were spent at each place cleaning, landscaping and bonding as new community members.
At Beckley Presbyterian Church, students cleaned and painted several childrens’ classrooms. The church also provided lunch to the working students. Pastor Jim Burton praised the students’ hard work.
“The young people are amazing,” Burton said. “The way they seem to be organized is over the top. It’s just great to see the community working with the school so that we are more together than we are separate. The energy that they bring is contagious.”
A few blocks away, students repainted a mural on a retaining wall. The wall overlooks a public parking lot, East Prince Street and the YMCA of Southern West Virginia. WVU Tech Associate Dean for Student Development Candice Stadler said this is only the beginning.
“We want Beckley to feel like their home,” Stadler said. “We’re working towards completing a million hours of service by 2020. This is just another way that we’re trying to instill that in our new students.”
WVU Tech President Carolyn Long explained in an earlier interview that students will have weekly opportunities to complete community service projects throughout the region. A large portion of WVU Tech students are not from West Virginia. 30 U.S. states and nearly 20 countries are represented in the school’s student body. This doesn’t make them any less motivated to give back to their new home.
Junior forensic investigation major Tyesha White said she wants to give back to West Virginia like she did in her hometown. White is an orientation team leader from Baltimore, Maryland.
“When I came here, I noticed (community service) was done but it wasn’t done as much as in Baltimore,” explained White. “I feel like if such a community there that’s always talked about so badly can stop for one day and do a lot of help, it can also happen here.”
Classes at WVU Tech begin Wednesday, August 16. At 12:30 p.m. that day, WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee and several other school leaders will be on hand for a special dedication ceremony. It will include the burial of a time capsule to be opened in 50 years. The event is open to the public. Despite becoming busy with classes, students will still take time to serve the community.
“We do little things, but little things can bring big happiness,” White said. “With Tech, we don’t need you to pay for this and that when you have students that are willing to come and help you for free.”
For more information about WVU Tech’s new campus, visit wvutech.edu.