ThunderCares: T-birds Volunteer

T-Birds volunteering at St. Vincent De Paul - Urban Farm (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)

By Chaitra Somasundar, Staff Writer

Over the past few weekends, T-Birds were occupied giving back to the community as a part of ThunderCares. ThunderCares is an initiative that encourages T-Birds to participate in community service activities in the greater Phoenix area. I spoke to Walter M. Arias (MA Candidate ’17, US), who organized the event, regarding the work that went into organizing this event and the challenges they faced. He said that the most difficult part was to get a hold of some organizations because they require a two and a half month advance scheduling due to tight availability. In spite of these challenges, Walter and team managed to organize volunteering activities for four nonprofit organizations on March 19th.

What are these organizations? How did T-Birds help?

1. Vincent De Paul – Urban Farm

T-Birds volunteering at St. Vincent De Paul - Urban Farm (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)
T-Birds volunteering at St. Vincent De Paul – Urban Farm (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)

Urban Farm is an organization that grows and harvests several pounds of fresh produce in order to feed families living in poverty. They grow pesticide-free produce by replacing chemical fertilizers with permaculture and natural farming methods. In addition to growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, Urban Farm employs an aquaponics system that produces tilapia. A robust composting program utilizes the by-products of this aquaponics system to enrich the soil in which fruits and vegetables are grown. They aim to provide health and wellness to those who need it the most. “The opportunity to give back to the community has been and is well embraced by the Thunderbird community. Our group helped the St. Vincent de Paul community garden continue to provide delicious and healthy meals to those in need. We did this by planting, mulching, and taking care of the premises,” said Travis Hookham (MA Candidate ’17, US) regarding his experience at Urban Farm.

For more information, visit http://www.stvincentdepaul.net/programs/urban-farm.

2. Andre House – Dining Service

T-Birds volunteering to provide dining service at Andre House (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)
T-Birds volunteering to provide dining service at Andre House (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)

Co-founded by two Holy Cross Priests in 1984, Andre House aims to provide services to the poor. The Dining Service division of the organization provides food to people in need. About 20-40 volunteers prepare meals everyday for the hungry. The organization is operational from Saturday to Thursday. They serve about 550-650 meals every night! Allision Skabrat (MA Candidate ’17) summed up her experience as “Definitely something I would like to do periodically–maybe once or twice a semester, at least! Everyone was nice and thankful which made it a lot of fun. Very organized and efficient, which made it easy to get to work and we feel like we really made a difference.”

For more information, visit http://andrehouse.org/dinner-service/

3. Read Better Be Better

T-Birds volunteering to generate funds for Read Better Be Better (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)
T-Birds volunteering to generate funds for Read Better Be Better (photo courtesy of Walter M. Arias)

This is an organization that addresses the literacy problems in Arizona. They motivate children to read and gain a deeper understanding of what they read. They coach 8th grade students to execute a “highly structured after-school curriculum” for children in 3rd grade.” T-Bird volunteers took up fund-raising activities for the RBBB by responding to potential donors via emails. “I was very impressed with RBBB. The representative we worked with was passionate about her position, about working with us, and was highly organized. I hope we are able to work with them again in the future,” stated Ellen Alexander (MA Candidate ’17) when asked about her experience.

For more information, visit http://www.readbetterbebetter.org/

“We weren’t able to accommodate staff and faculty this time, but that is the main goal for the Fall–we want to include all of Thunderbird,” said Walter, when asked about upcoming volunteering events by ThunderCares. T-Birds look forward to more of such fulfilling experiences in the future.

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