Today was a much anticipated day for me because we were working on my favorite project and my personal hobby-gardening! This wasn’t just an ordinary garden however, this was a vegetable garden; the best kind of garden there is. This hits near and dear to my heart because I’m majoring in Dietetics and a bulk of my community service back at Purdue is helping start community gardens and transferring fresh produce from local farmers to those in need. I was very excited today and everything far exceeded my expectations. In collaboration with CDC Climb students, we planted tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, bell peppers, jalapeños, squash, basil, thyme and mint. We worked hard all day in the hot sun and together we accomplished our goals which was incredibly rewarding. To see everyone from different backgrounds come together for one common goal and accomplish it fully gave us something to be proud of and bond. The best part of the day was getting to know the Climb students better and talking to them one-on-one. I had the opportunity to hear more about their dreams and also I had the opportunity to answer their questions about college. I truly believe that I have achieved my goal of getting to know some of the students well enough that they felt comfortable opening up to me. While the physical labor, painting and gardening are all amazing experiences, nothing can compare to getting to know those who are being positively affected by our volunteer work and connecting with them. Putting a face to the work makes the experience personal and worthwhile.
Tonight after work we had dinner from Moe’s restaurant which was exactly what we needed to refuel after a hard day’s work. We had “shout-outs” where people talk about the great job of others giving them the recognition they deserve. It was awesome to hear person after person telling stories about students doing amazing things and going above and beyond what is expected of them. These ASB students continue to surprise me each day with their genuine kindness, compassion and sincerity. After catching up on everyone’s day we had a little fun by heading over to one of the local Boys and Girls Club and playing dodge ball, basketball, Frisbee, and kickball. The great thing about this spring break is that while we are doing a lot of great things, we never stop having fun. Tomorrow is going to be a little different for our group because we have finished all of our projects with the Boys and Girls Club so we are going to help another group out at Habitat for Humanity. I’m looking forward to seeing what a different site looks like and getting to work with some new people. Thank you United Way Worldwide and United Way of South Mississippi for making this a great experience!