Spending a day helping the community

by May 11, 2009 12:00 am

Kirsten Aguilar

People wearing white, blue and gold T-shirts swarmed the streets of San Jose on Friday.

More than 1,000 SJSU students, faculty and staff lent helping hands to the San Jose community on the third annual Day of Service.

"It was a good experience going out there and knowing that you're doing something for your community," said Christian Gonzalez, a freshman aviation engineering major and one of the student volunteers. "You're helping in any kind of way that you can, and you feel good after you do it."

Volunteers, who preregistered online, arrived at 8 a.m. for welcoming remarks and check-in on Tower Lawn. Groups of volunteers were then sent to various locations around San Jose to work on a variety of community service projects.

Maribel Martinez, a program manager at the Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center and one of the event organizers, said this year's projects included painting houses for senior citizens, park beautification, street and overpass cleanup, mural painting, building restoration, tree planting and other projects around the city.

After completing community service projects, volunteers returned to Tower Lawn for a celebration, which included a barbecued lunch, live music from two local bands and dance performances by Pride of the Pacific Islands club and Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol de San Jose State Univ. club.

Cathy Busalacchi, executive director of the Student Union, said this year's Day of Service was successful.

"I think the event went extremely well," she said. "When I think about how many student volunteers we had, along with community project leaders, it's pretty phenomenal."

Busalacchi said about 160 community project leaders and staff from CommUniverCity San Jose and AmeriCorps were involved with Day of Service.

Martinez said Day of Service benefits SJSU and the community in many ways.

"It gives the university and students exposure to the community," she said. "It's just part of a larger framework or field of service learning that speaks to students benefiting from hands-on projects, and learning while doing."

Busalacchi said the event also sends a positive message.

"We're an educational institution, and I think what we're showing and role modeling is that service is important," she said. "San Jose State sits in the core of an urban area, and we have a surrounding neighborhood around us. All of the projects are taking place in those neighborhoods, so I think it really shows the neighborhood that we are a part of it and we're here to help."

Henry Negrete, an undeclared sophomore, said he was proud to participate in Day of Service.

"I'm just trying to do my part," he said. "San Jose is a beautiful city and I'm trying to keep it beautiful. I think that Day of Service is a great opportunity for the students, faculty and other members of the community to be able to give back."

Erika Chavez, a freshman health science major, said she enjoyed helping the community.

"It was fun," she said. "It was hard work, but it was good. It inspires people to get up and do something to make a difference."

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