Wittenberg students recently attended PromiseFest, a community celebration at Lincoln Elementary School in the Springfield Promise Neighborhood, Sept. 15. The event, “Super Service Saturday,” was sponsored by the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement. The day allowed Wittenberg students to spread some kindness with children in the Promise Neighborhood by leading crafts and other activities reflective of Wittenberg’s values, as well as the opportunity to interact with a neighborhood that fosters a promising partnership between the campus and community.
Bright colors of face paint, sounds of kids jumping in a bouncy house, cheers after scoring a point in cornhole, singing and dancing from the talent show, bright red fire trucks with smiling firemen, and fun and interactive crafts.
These were just a few of the sights and sounds I experienced as a volunteer at PromiseFest. In the few hours the event lasted, so many bonds and positive feelings formed in the community; it was incredibly special to see.
Springfield Promise Neighborhood has three goals: youth development, community growth, and family engagement. Before the event, I had volunteered at the Promise Neighborhood after-school program, and I had also completed a practicum for an education course at Lincoln Elementary. The school and program already had a place in my heart, but being able to help out at PromiseFest gave me even more respect for what Promise Neighborhood is all about.
Throughout the event, I saw the three goals of Promise in action. The different mix of volunteers from the community, Promise Neighborhood, and AmeriCorps had already created a sense of togetherness and excitement; that was even before the event began! We all had the common goal to create a safe and positive environment for everyone attending, and that’s what made the event outstanding.
My duty of the day was to supervise the bouncy house. Although my job seemed rather ordinary, I got to interact with the community members: kids, parents, siblings, friends. We bonded about Promise Neighborhood, Lincoln Elementary, and sometimes about Wittenberg. I was surrounded by excited and loving people who saw the true meaning of the event: creating community bonds and reminding the community about the promise.
Although I intended to go and help wherever I was needed for this event, I was not expecting the overarching reminder of what being civically active can really accomplish. Oftentimes, Wittenberg students remark about the bubble of campus. However, it is events such as PromiseFest and Super Service Saturdays where Wittenberg and the Hagen Center pop that bubble and encourage the importance of being involved in the community.
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of the supportive community that is the Promise Neighborhood.
Marlee McGorray '20
Major: Early Childhood Education
Minor: Music Minor
Hometown: Rocky River, Ohio