Cheyney & West Chester Students Prove How to be Good Neighbors

December 2, 2015

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Some of the Cheyney and West Chester students who worked together volunteering in the local community on Giving Tuesday

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More than 80 students from Cheyney and West Chester Universities volunteered at eight Chester County organizations on Giving Tuesday. The Good Neighbors Initiative, the idea of junior Leonard Brown, a Keystone Honors Academy Scholar at Cheyney, will likely become a tradition. As people around the globe joined forces to help others on December 1, both schools collaborated on joint projects, giving generously of their time to help others.

“In my opinion, giving back is about coming together to accomplish a common goal that promotes a mutually rewarding experience, a genuine exchange,” explains Brown, “and there is no better place to start than in your own backyard.”

Brown and his team at Cheyney as well as the team from West Chester, worked hard to positively interact with and build meaningful relationships with local community members and pay it forward using the collective power of individuals and service as the stimulus. Volunteers worked from 9 am to 1 pm at Barclay Friends, Chester County Hospital, Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center, - Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, The Hickman Friends Senior Community, Planned Parenthood of Chester County, and the YMCA Oscar Lasko Center. They did all kinds of things including holiday decorating, reading to youth and seniors, cleaning, preparing meals, caroling, and helping set up displays. From 1 to 3 pm, volunteers from both schools gathered at West Chester University to do two more projects collectively including building Caps Kits for youth and working with Planned Parenthood for World Aids Day which also fell on December 1. Brown was able to get Giant to provide morning refreshments and MaC Distribution to donate tee shirts for volunteers.

“I was most impressed by the selflessness displayed by all of the parties involved with the Giving Tuesday project from the volunteers to the community partners to the support services,” Brown said afterwards.

Cheyney junior Matthew Corbin worked closely with Brown on the initiative and is pleased with the outcome, too. “People truly enjoyed serving and a number of people who saw the event through social media are now looking to participate in events going forward,” he said excitedly.

Khalil Abrahams, a Cheyney sophomore, spent time cleaning a men’s bathroom in a nearby community center and was surprised at how much that meant to people there. He said helping others should be a daily occurrence.

“It is imperative that we all take a little bit of our time each day to help someone who needs our help or is less fortunate than we are. It's the little things really matter in people's lives.”

Freshman Meghan Sowersby, another KHA Scholar, helped publicize the Good Neighbors Initiative and also served in the trenches. She loved that everyone who volunteered did so with a smile on their faces.

“It should be normal for us to get together with the realization that we have the potential to change the way in which people think, and I saw the beginnings of that at the event,” she enthused. “As a university, we have the PERFECT opportunity to give back considering that we have various people and resources on campus literally right here; it's something that we can capitalize on for good.”

Junior Simone Pearson couldn’t believe “how excited the organizations were to have Cheyney/West Chester University students come and volunteer.” She was thrilled by all of the students who, in the end, wanted to know when the next Good Neighbor volunteer session would be.

Senior Asmil Perez volunteered at the Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children, which is a shelter for families, and came away with a new appreciation for volunteerism.

“I'm one that got caught up with everyday life and forgot about the needs of others around me. Being a part of Good Neighbor brought me back to reality,” he confessed. “I am truly inspired and motivated to continue to give back to my community,” he insisted. “Everyone from children to youth and adults should participate regularly in giving back to their community. It really keeps you grounded. The best part of all is knowing you are bringing a smile to the face of someone less fortunate.”

Brown is already meeting with community partners to keep the momentum from Giving Tuesday going.

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