The following summarizes a service project our honors program engaged in earlier this year:
To help get us started on our service project, we contacted our on-campus Center for Civic Engagement. While chatting with the nice folks at the Center, we learned of Bennion, a local low-income elementary school with a library in disarray. We talked to the principle and visited the school to see what could be done. In the library, we saw piles upon piles of books waiting to be processed and put away. The faculty lounge annexed to the library had not been used in ages because the school had used it to store broken or outdated technology (like VCR's), classroom supplies, and books. It was a mess. The librarian informed us that she was struggling to keep up with her duties due to health problems. We decided she could use some extra hands to help her get back on track.
A group of Honors students volunteered their time to reorganize the library. With the librarian to direct us, we worked our way through boatloads of books. We entered books into their computer system. We split into teams, covering, labeling, and shelving. After we finished for the day, we were pleased with what we had accomplished, although we acknowledged that there was still much to be done (like clearing out the faculty lounge).
We wished to continue our work so we set about arranging a visit to the library with another group of volunteers. Unfortunately we were unable to organize follow ups with the school because we could not keep in touch with Bennion. We found it very difficult to get in contact with our connection there, the principle. He did not respond to emails or return phone calls. We finally did speak with him, but he was not interested in the continuation of the project. We were surprised by this and disappointed that we wouldn't be able to sustain the work we had started.
We reflected that we had underestimated how difficult our project would be. It seemed like it would be relatively simple (just putting away some books), yet it proved to be quite difficult to orchestrate the project with the elementary school. Furthermore, the work itself consumed much more time than expected. Since the principle made little effort to work with us, we concluded that we may not have been as needed as we had thought. Although we feel like we can make improvements for future service projects, we are proud of the work we accomplished and are motivated to keep giving back to our community.