What's for dinner?
Every evening, households around the world ponder this question. But, what if cooking a homemade, nutritious meal for your family was just not possible?
This is where the Campus Kitchen program, provided through East Carolina University’s Volunteer and Service-Learning Center (VSLC), and volunteers like senior social work major Shoneice Sconyers come in.
“Working with Campus Kitchen really allows me to combine my two passions of volunteering and cooking,” said Sconyers, as she prepared baked chicken for an evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville, N.C. “I love everything about cooking for people, including preparing the food and seeing everyone smiling and enjoying the meal.”
Shoneice Sconyers, who says that her greatest passions are cooking and volunteering, volunteers with the VSLC's Campus Kitchen program.
Campus Kitchen is just one of the many projects managed by the VSLC, which celebrated its 20th birthday this past year.
Located in the Old Cafeteria Complex, the VSLC helps students live out the university’s motto Servire, which means To Serve. The center connects volunteers and service-learners with service sites, plans national days of service and service trips, supports student led service programs, and tracks service hours performed and reported by students.
The VSLC works with a variety of community partners to provide students with a wide array of volunteer opportunities that will strengthen communities.
The VSLC, along with Aramark, collaborated to open ECU’s Campus Kitchen, the first one in the UNC System.
Campus Kitchen, is a national effort that combats hunger by working with college campuses and community partners to save food from various venues that goes unserved or unsold and give it to people in need. The program employs a partnership with the Ronald McDonald House and the Little Willie Center to help make nutritious food a reality for people who are hungry.
“Americans waste so much food,” said Sconyers. “We are trying to get people to stop and look at how they use the resources they have. Instead of wasting your food, take it to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen to feed people who are truly in need.”
Another ECU student, marketing and finance junior Dante Rose, also makes a difference in the Greenville community by volunteering with the Pirate Playtime program through the VSLC.
On Friday afternoons, Pirate Playtime volunteers facilitate games and activities for children in after-school programs at Eppes Middle School, Wellcome Middle School, South Greenville Recreation Center, and Building Hope Community Life Center.
“As an ECU student, it’s been an awesome experience to volunteer.” said Rose one afternoon at Building Hope Community Life Center. “I see this opportunity as a mentor to help build up the younger generation.”
According to Rose, Pirate Playtime really gives the kids a chance to break down their week and get ready for the weekend.
“We try to find out what activities work best for the kids and let them play games they enjoy,” said Rose. “Some of the kids may be more interested in mental games than running. We try to work with different personalities and incorporate activities for everyone.”
Rose, who has been volunteering at various organizations since he was in middle school, said he believes that having a leadership role as a mentor is incredibly important.
“If these kids see college students taking time out of their day to come spend time with them, then they are going to be more apt to want to finish school and do something productive with their lives,” he said. “They will remember that someone cared about them when they were younger, and they might even feel obligated to volunteer and give back themselves one day.”
Both Rose and Sconyers say that their lives have been greatly impacted through their volunteer experiences.
“Through volunteering, I have found my niche and purpose,” said Sconyers. “I want to spend my time wisely, and my passion is serving people and helping in any way I can.”
Rose echoed Sconyers’ thoughts.
“Volunteering has become such an important part of my life that if I don’t volunteer, I feel like I am not doing my duty both as a human being and as an ECU student,” he said.
Anyone interested in making a positive impact in the community through volunteering can find out more about the VSLC at its website, http://www.ecu.edu/vslc
By Meagan Williford, University Marketing