Two days before the start of classes, Brent Minery ’18 traveled with 24 other students to Special Equestrians Therapeutic Riding Center in Warrington, Pa. He paused, leaned against his bedding fork, and wiped a few beads of sweat from his brow. The work he and his fellow first-year students were doing at the farm was part of Arcadia’s 2014 Orientation Day of Service.
“It’s good to get the students involved in the area, because not everyone, including myself, is from around here,” said Minery. “It’s good to go out and meet with the community and to develop that relationship with Arcadia, the new students, and wherever in the community we get assigned to.”
Students weeded, worked on grounds maintenance, and cleaned horse pens at the farm, which, through therapy horse riding, offers numerous wellness and rehabilitative benefits to those of all ages affected by conditions like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder.
(Some of the horses seemed to love the attention, with one in particular stomping his back right foot each time the photographer approached before stopping and looking at the camera as if to say, “Make sure you’re getting my good side.”)
“It gives students who have never done community service a new perspective,” said Orientation Leader Amy Jordan ’17. “Plus, a lot of these students have never been around a horse before, so it’s a good way to get them out of their comfort zone.”
The farm was one of nearly 20 locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area that first-years visited. Other sites included Christ’s Home for Children in Warminster, where 35 students played games with children that have been victim to abuse or neglect, and Awbury Arboretum, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), and the U School in Philadelphia.
The U School is a non-selective high school opening this fall in North Philadelphia that aims to teach students to solve real problems in their communities through research, planning, designing, and idea testing. Arcadia volunteers helped set up simple classrooms for its inaugural school year and decorated the building with artwork.
“It’s good to encourage new students to get involved early with community service,” said Greta Diem ’17, Orientation Leader and member of Arcadia for a Better Community, Arcadia’s student community service group. With nearly 60 members, the group is a testament to the University’s commitment to local and global service.
Here on campus, on the second floor of the Commons, students packed coffee, tea, honey, and other goods for the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA). The agency will distribute the packets in next month’s distribution to underserved community members for the Jewish New Year. Since most distributions are filled with non-perishable food items, the student-packed gifts will serve as a special treat.
“This is a great way to show students that it doesn’t take a lot of time to make a difference,” said Melissa Samen ’93, program director at the JRA. “You can make a difference for community members by working right here on campus.”