The Law, Societies, and Justice Program continues to host successful “Day of Service”. This year, the Program added another such event, due to widespread interest.
First, and for the third straight year, a group of LSJ alumni, faculty and current students spent a February Saturday lending a helping hand to the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC).
DESC provides both temporary and permanent housing to Seattle’s homeless community and works to transition people who are living on the streets into more permanent and sustainable living situations. Many of the DESC’s clients have simply fallen on hard times and just need temporary housing and assistance finding work to get back on their feet. Others of their clients suffer from debilitating mental illness or problems with addiction and rely on the DESC to survive. The group of twenty-three LSJ students, past and present, were accompanied by program faculty and staff to paint the first floor of the Morrison Hotel in downtown Seattle.
One of the student attendees, James Coatsworth ’14, said, “I’ve learned quite a bit about organizations similar to the DESC in my LSJ classes, even writing a paper or two about their efforts in the Seattle area. It’s really rewarding to get first-hand experience in helping them to accomplish their mission. I also enjoyed meeting LSJ alums from years past and hearing about their experiences in the real world.”
As James mentioned, in addition to getting hands-on experience with some of the issues at the core of the LSJ curriculum and contributing to the greater Seattle community, the event also provided the opportunity for faculty and current students alike to chat with alumni and see the wide range of career paths their LSJ degrees have enabled them to pursue.
LSJ Director Steve Herbert said, “This was our third day of service event, and they have all been immensely rewarding. It is wonderful to interact with both alumni and current students, and to facilitate them getting to know one another. And to be able to support a worthy organization like DESC makes it all the more satisfying.”
Alumnus Doug McManaway ’10 said, “I attended the event because my LSJ education has helped me realize the value I place on putting words into action. I refuse to be a seminar warrior, talking about issues of justice and inequity and not doing anything. I think fellow LSJ alumni and current students feel similarly.”
The experience of alumnus Amanda Carson was similar. “Even after graduating almost six years ago,” she said, “I still feel passionate about social justice and community involvement, especially with under-served populations. Working at the Morrison with the DESC was a great opportunity to make a visible impact on the individuals who live there.”
The LSJ program was tremendously excited to offer a helping hand to the DESC, which depends on the efforts of volunteers and whose work is so important to Seattle’s homeless citizens. The group managed to repaint the entire first floor of the building in record time, a feat for which the staff and residents were immensely grateful.
The LSJ program assembled another group for the second “Day of Service” event of the year in April. This time, the tasks included landscaping and yard work at the Ryther, an organization committed to providing children and teens mental health and addiction treatment.
Ryther is located in North Seattle and provides behavioral health services and addiction treatment to children and their families through both in-patient and counseling services. The ten-acre Ryther campus provides children with abundant space to play, exercise, and build social skills through interacting with the other kids, and the better maintained the area is the better each child’s experience can be.
Jill Anderson ’08, one of the event’s key organizers, said, “We’ve been planning the Ryther event since Summer 2013. Our alumni group was really interested in volunteering at the organization but the first available time was April 2014, mostly due to weather restrictions. We were so happy when we finally were able to get our hands dirty and help out beautifying the campus. Working with Sherri, the outreach coordinator was awesome, she was very good about communicating expectations and was proactive on all levels. They even had a cool “UW” sign for us the day we arrived.”
Jill also said that, “being connected to the LSJ program is a no brainer for me at this point. I think it is really important to stay connected to your University community and our alumni group is so special. The program has not only allowed us to maintain our friendships with previous students, but is also a great way for us to meet the next generation of LSJ students and to keep our connections growing!”
Current LSJ senior Marcelina DesChamps expressed her appreciation for the event, saying, “The course work and opportunities in LSJ continue to open up new doors to bodies of information I’d never known or considered before. Attending events like the Day of Service reminds me of the endless opportunities I have to apply what I’ve learned in LSJ to a meaningful career.”
Marcelina also said, “I think LSJ events like this are awesome. As a busy college student, it can be hard to get to know organizations around town that may be related to my field. The service day at Ryther gave me a chance to become familiar with a great local organization.”
The LSJ program was tremendously excited to lend a helping hand to such fantastic organizations like DESC and Ryther that are devoted to assisting the Seattle community. The program would like to thank everyone who was able to donate their time and help such a pair of worthy causes.
This article was written by Chase Beauclair.