The environmental biology student worked with 17 other volunteers from Cal Poly Pomona and Habitat for Humanity to help build a home in Covina.
“We are all in a place where it is possible for us to volunteer or help our community in some way,” Wagner says of the experience. “Even the smallest effort can create a big change.”
Since that first event in fall 2011, the Center for Community Service-Learning has held a Bronco Community Service Day every quarter, with the next one scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16. The center works to connect the Cal Poly Pomona community with volunteer opportunities throughout the year, but the service day provides a chance for those who would like to volunteer but can’t make a regular commitment.
“Every quarter it’s different,” says Megan McDanel, the campus volunteer coordinator at Cal Poly Pomona. “But it’s always a large-scale event for Cal Poly Pomona students to get involved in their community and volunteer.”
As a university with a learn-by-doing credo, it’s no surprise that Cal Poly Pomona volunteers contribute 400,000 community service hours each year. The volunteering experience is not limited to students with career plans in the social work or social justice fields; students from all years and majors come out to do volunteer work.
After the success with the Habitat for Humanity project, the center held an event at Crystal Lake in the Angeles National Forest for the Winter Service Day, which had students picking up axes, clippers, and rakes to perform much-needed maintenance of local trails.
The center’s Spring Service Day was themed “Pomona Beautification Day” and had volunteers working a variety of projects throughout the city. More than 200 students went to parks and museums across Pomona to plant trees, touch up light poles and clean.
The fall 2012 service day took place on Oct. 27, with volunteers painting, planting, cleaning and building furniture to help refurbish Garey High School.
For Teresa Padilla, a first-year apparel merchandising and management student, the service day at the high school was her first experience volunteering with Cal Poly Pomona. She was impressed with the way her fellow volunteers came together to work as a team.
“No one was slacking off,” she says. “Everyone really stepped up. I will definitely be volunteering again.”
Winter quarter’s service day, “I Love Pomona Day,” will take place Feb. 16. The center will send volunteers in groups of 20 to help 10-15 community organizations.
“A lot can happen in one day,” McDanel says. “Not only is it making a difference for that one day, I believe it changes the volunteers in a lot of ways. It’s giving them awareness, confidence and experience that will propel them to be successful leaders.”