Volunteerism still a virtue we teach

Freshmen started their orientation at Davis & Elkins College by volunteering to help improve community life in Elkins.

Kump Education Center benefited from the energetic services of 15 new college students last Sunday. They arrived on a Randolph County School bus with math professor Dr. Renaud Stauber serving as their faculty advisor.

Linda Sylva from the Elkins Tree Board worked with five strong guys to weed and mulch around the apple trees in the orchard. Their task would have been easier if they had not needed to open the deer protection wire cages set around these trees. Nevertheless, the apple tree rescue team worked quickly and effectively to improve the condition of 20 trees in 90 minutes.

The fence painting team was my responsibility. There were 17 sections of fence set back from the road where they could paint safely. We provided a scraper, a brush, and a bucket for each of our ten painters. Dr. Stauber started right in on the scraping of the first section of fence, and the students followed with their tools quickly. They made remarkable progress in an hour, and we could see that they would be able to finish the whole right side of the fence.

One male student seemed to be slowing down and talking with a girl near him. I asked if they needed more paint, and he said, “No, I am from England, and students there don’t do things like this when they get to university. We spend the first few days in the local pubs.” I quickly answered that Americans teach the work ethic.

Later, when I thought more about what had transpired along the fence, I realized that it is not just the work ethic, but it is volunteerism that we recognize as a virtue in West Virginia. “Volunteer West Virginia” is our state’s Commission for National and Community Service. Volunteer WV sponsors AmeriCorps and VISTA programs in the state. West Virginia is second per capita in the nation for producing AmeriCorps members who give 20 million hours of service. This amount of service is strong evidence of the hard-working and patriotic character of West Virginians.

As I think about the culture of our community, I believe volunteerism is one of the most prevalent factors in our way of life. Every week we have pancake feeds, chicken burns, or clean-up projects. Contributing time and energy to a favorite cause is a characteristic behavior in West Virginia. We can be proud that D&E students are learning such beneficial behaviors.

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