Every year nearly 5,000 students, faculty, staff, and alumni gather to honor St. Thomas with a Day of Service. St. Thomas was committed to his service of the poor and marginalized. In a similar way, the Villanova community sets out to assist neighborhood organizations in Greater Philadelphia. In this 12th year of the event, VU SHRM participated with 10 of its members at Radnor: A Better Chance (Radnor ABC).
Radnor ABC offers educational opportunities to academically talented students of color who lack opportunities in their local schools. The site houses 9-10 students per academic year from all over the country. Although the program is federally funded, the building which houses the students is old and in need of maintenance. VU SHRM was able to help with projects that the organization had been in need of for years.
The volunteers were split up into two groups: one to the basement and one to the front yard. In the basement, it was discovered that the buildings foundation was slowly deteriorating. Our volunteers were tasked with dusting the crumbling bricks and sweeping the entire area --not as easy as it sounds when clouds of dust form under a low hanging ceiling! In another section of the basement, the foundation consisted of nothing but dirt. Our volunteers graciously dug some of the dirt and brick out, which had collapsed from a pipe bursting earlier that year.
In the front yard, a larger group of volunteers was tasked with removing an overgrown garden from the front lawn. The garden consisted of several bushes, small plants, and a single tree. All the plants were to be removed to create a more attractive appearance. VU SHRM’s volunteers were excited to be working outside on such a lovely day, and made quick work of the task, though it was not without great efforts.
After the gardens were cleared, our volunteers spent the end of the day scraping and spray painting the metal fence in front of the house. The ground was also to be smoothed where the garden had sloped down toward the street. Radnor ABC will be laying down grass seed where the garden once was. Upon the completion of our work, the site was thrilled with the help we had offered. They shared with us their goals of a more attractive place for the students to live, hopefully creating a more positive outlook for incoming students.
Below are a few words from some of the VU SHRM team volunteers about their time at Radnor: A Better Chance during the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service.
"It was impressive to me how much of a visible difference we were able to make in just a few hours of time working as a team. The Day of Service gave me a chance to work alongside our students and get to know them better and help out Radnor: A Better Chance, an organization dedicated to making a positive, meaningful, and long-lasting difference in the lives of so many vulnerable young people."
-Dr. Gerry Brandon
"Participating in the VU Day of Service is such a uniquely rewarding experience. Not only are we able to volunteer alongside thousands of fellow Villanova students, faculty, and staff, but we are also able to make a real and tangible impact in the lives of others. I feel very lucky to have been part of a team that was assigned to an organization as amazing as Radnor ABC."
-Hannah Parker Carver
"With one day of work, we were able to accomplish what Radnor: A Better Chance had been waiting to do for three years. I really feel like we made a difference."
Conor Kennedy is a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate Programs in HRD at Villanova. He also serves as the Treasurer of the VU SHRM chapter. Learn more about him here & connect with him on LinkedIn!