Rosemary Chesney, Campus Carrier arts and living editor
Whether because they are a part of service scholarship or not, dozens of students across campus volunteered at nonprofits in Rome throughout the week. One nonprofit organization where hundreds of Berry students have volunteered at throughout the past few years is Restoration Rome.
Restoration Rome is a hub for foster care and family services. It provides various services including healthcare support, childcare, education and mentoring, mental health services, spiritual support and community enrichment. Senior Jetaun Walker has been volunteering there for almost four years.
“I like the cause of the organization,” Walker said. “I enjoy helping people and there’s just a ton of services they provide.”
As a Bonner scholar, Walker is required to volunteer about eight to 10 hours a week. At Restoration Rome, she says there are two other Bonner scholars who volunteer frequently and there have been student volunteers from the football team, Lead Fellows scholarship, service cottages, Athletes Bettering the Community club and faculty. She said that they are hoping to recruit some more regular Bonner volunteers for next semester.
“It’s a very trusting and close-knit community,” Walker said. “I definitely do recommend volunteering here because it feels great to know you’ve done something to help others with no personal reimbursement.”
Students who volunteer at Restoration Rome help with three main things: they take part in childcare that allows parents to attend parenting classes, they sort and separate clothing in the clothing closet for children and they also sometimes help at the front desk with various tasks. Senior Vanessa Cortez has also been volunteering at Restoration Rome for about three years.
“Honestly, you don’t know what you’ll come across volunteering there,” Cortez said. “Everyone that comes in has a different circumstance, and it’s a very welcoming and close environment.”
According to Volunteer Coordinator Lexie Vick, they expect an influx of volunteers from Berry service cottages and have already met with seven potential cottages about serving. She said that they welcome any volunteers and as long as no more than 20 students come in at a time, they will not be overwhelmed.
“We’re really grateful for you all,” Vick said. “I know we say it a lot but we really mean it and appreciate you all. You all are so eager, quick and full of energy which is a great help with the kids and clothing department.”
Walker said that serving at Restoration Rome has helped her understand people better and gain compassion, empathy and leadership skills. Cortez said her volunteering experiences have helped her realize that she wants to continue serving others even after she graduates.
“I want to incorporate it with my major either continuing working with a nonprofit or even opening one someday,” Cortez said. “I think I learned a lot personally about having an open mind with individuals, realizing I have a lot and should be grateful.”
Berry’s emphasis on volunteering has been displayed through the dozens of students who serve at non profits throughout Rome. Outside of Restoration Rome, students volunteer at the YMCA, Paws Floyd County and other youth centers. Walker and Cortez both have served at multiple of these different nonprofit organizations.