HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 13, 2012 – The James Madison softball team spent the weekend of Nov. 2-3 volunteering at the Our Community Place 10K “Walk the Walk” fundraiser in an effort to help raise for the local non-profit project.
Several of the players spent one afternoon marking out the race course with directional signs throughout downtown Harrisonburg on the Friday before the event. On the day of the race some players manned the water station in the middle of the race while other set up, served and cleaned up lunch.
Our Community Place (OCP) is a community-centered, grassroots project. OCP emerged from the Free Food for All Soup Kitchen held at the Little Grill Restaurant every Monday from 1992 to 2008. In 2008, it opened a community center in downtown Harrisonburg deserved for welcoming everyone.
Walk the Walk 2012 was a way for the community to help OCP in its mission to promote personal growth and community well-being in the Harrisonburg area.
Their Own Words
JMU freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) was asked to write a testimonial about her and her teammates experience volunteering with OCP:
Volunteering is commonly thought to have a positive and meaningful effect on the community, but it also has an effect on the volunteers helping out. Before Saturday, I have never volunteered before and honestly never thought I would because I had no idea how influential it all was. I expected to show up and find only a few other volunteers, but to my surprise there were many other volunteer groups besides the softball team. This experience opened my eyes and allowed me the opportunity to work with the community, make new friends, and even work on my corn-hole game.
After committing to volunteer during and after the 10K Walk the Walk, I started to wonder what we were going to be doing and participating in. Our first task on Saturday was to set-up and man the water/snack station. When Cat [Clavin] and I arrived, we were a tad late but were happy to find that our teammates were already there. Anna [Klumpp], Morgan [Heath], and Jasmine [Butler] had already set-up the station which seemed pretty easy. They even made it very presentable by arranging the snack cups into the initials OCP, representing Our Community Place, who was putting on the walk. We also provided motivation to the walkers as they arrived to the station with their faces pale and cold from the chilly morning air and wind. Once the walkers were on their way again, we packed up the snacks, coolers, and table to take back to the volunteering building.
Once we arrived back to the community place, we met up with Reba [DePriest], Heather [Kiefer], Brittany [Jeans], and many others who were joining us in the later shift. Cat, Brittany, and I joined a group of girls and helped them cut up bread for the lunch that was being provided for the walkers. Reba, Heather, and a man named Jerry went on a drive to try and find the walkers and get pictures of them during the walk. After setting up the tables with desserts and silverware and when Reba and Heather got back, we all went in the back and started washing dishes. The man who regularly washes the dishes gave us instructions on how to do the process and where to put everything away. After his tutorial, he got to relax for the time being while we took over his duty. It seemed like there was a never ending stream of dishes coming back into the dish room. It was like clock-work; pre-soak, wash, rinse, sanitize, dry, and repeat. We had a productive assembly line going which made for better efficiency and within probably an hour and a half we were done with the dishes. Finishing up our duties, we mopped the kitchen, took out the trash, and topped off other small jobs.
Right before we were planning on leaving, a couple of people who attend the community place decided to set up for a game of corn-hole. Reba and Heather participated in a very competitive atmosphere, but to make it fair they split up into two separate teams. Cat, Brittany, and I decided to cheer on our teammates from the sidelines while they played. It was a close game in the beginning, but then Heather and her teammate began a strategy and started sinking the bean bags through the pockets. From that point on, it was a blow out with Heather and her co-player winning by a large margin. I was glad we stuck around to play corn-hole because it allowed us a little time to relax while also getting to know and joke around with some of the people from the community.
To say that volunteering changed my perspective of life sounds very cliché, but after working with the other volunteers at Our Community Place, I saw how passionate these people were about helping the community and it changed my view. The great thing about volunteering is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to receive a degree of any sort or have good grammar to help out. Volunteering is honestly rewarding because you get to serve a cause, work with people, resolve problems, see benefits, and know that you had a hand in it all. I think peaceful activist Mahatma Gandhi said it well, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
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