As with any major city in the United States, economically depressed areas exist in Phoenix and outside the protective gates of Grand Canyon University. Even the smallest of things mean the world to these communities that we consider our own.
From a refugee apartment complex in Serrano Village and a charter school to the Young Lives home – a Phoenix outreach project for single mothers – hundreds of GCU students took to the city of Phoenix on Serve the City Day, a semi-annual event to revitalize the neighborhoods that surround GCU.
Pulling weeds or painting a wall doesn’t seem like much, but the immense gratitude from the people of Serrano, Young Lives and Imagine Schools is incomparable.
“It is a reminder to GCU that we have so many resources and a great opportunity to get involved in the local community; and we get to do that on a mass scale,” said Danielle Rinnier, GCU’s Director of Spiritual Life, during Serve the City Day.
Swarms of purple clad students filled the registration tables ready to serve a community in need. At the Young Lives home later that morning, they painted baseboards, cleaned up the house and pulled weeds.
“I came today because it is a way to reach out to the community that I now live in, and also to just give my time,” says Kathleen Bollnow, a sophomore at GCU. “I can’t always give my money, you know, we are college students and we can’t always give our money, but we can just give our time”
The principals at Imagine Schools, Jason Whitaker and Jose Paredes, shared their appreciation to have so many Lopes provide one-on-one tutoring sessions to their students.
“Every experience we have had with the university students has been positive. They have open hearts and are very welcoming to our kids,” said Whitaker. “They are immediately there to help and there to love them. It means the world to our kids.”
Rinnier mirrored these sentiments: “When you’re in a position and there’s a need, and someone who is outside your normal day to day sees it and wants to help; that’s a blessing and it’s encouraging.”