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Biannual Community Volunteer Day returns for fall

Nick Zirinis
Jack Cutler (’22) and Leyth Sousou (’22) shovel dirt and rake away leaves in order to set up fencing at Pace Fortune Green for Community Volunteer Day Oct. 17. ASL families volunteered at 13 different community volunteer sites on the day.

Members of ASL took part in Community Volunteer Day, organized by the PCA Community Engagement Committee Oct. 17. 

Community Volunteer Day is an opportunity for people to engage with the greater London community and help make a difference. It takes place twice a year in the spring and fall. 

Director of Community Action Brandon Block said while the overall mission of volunteers at each site was the same – supporting community partners – the work varied. 

“The work that they did was dependent upon what the organization needed,” he said. “At some places, our volunteers were painting fences … Some were cleaning out cupboards, some were building shelves, some were cleaning garbage out of the Regent’s Park Canal.” 

According to Block, there were two time sessions to sign up for, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 13 different sites involved.

One organization visited by volunteers was Pace Fortune Green, a nursery and play center that offers childcare services for young children. 

Jack Cutler (’22), who volunteered at Pace Fortune Green, said he mainly assisted with gardening and setting up a fence to increase privacy around the site. 

Cutler said he was very pleased with the group he was part of, and he said it was gratifying when they sat in a circle at the end of the day and reflected on their work.

“We had a really good group of individuals come out, and I feel like it was very productive,” he said. “It was really enjoyable just to see what exactly we did, and like how that would help.”

Community Volunteer Day has been a tradition for many years. Block said the creation of the event was helpful to ASL families who wanted to help make a difference and connect with other people and groups in London.

“It was positive and allowed families, many of whom were new to London, to both feel grounded in London and the U.K. and make a positive contribution to the local community,” he said. 

In addition, Block said the event has grown over the years, as it used to only include three or four local organizations.

For instance, last school year, the PCA committee partnered with 18 different sites for the Community Volunteer day held May 23. 

Regardless, according to Head of the PCA Community Engagement Committee Dina Dacy, the fall Community Volunteer Day did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19 risks. 

We had a really good group of individuals come out, and I feel like it was very productive.

— Jack Cutler ('22)

Dacy said it was unfortunate the school could not support the sites during a particularly difficult time, when people were experiencing pandemic-induced turmoil. 

“Our community partners were stressed because the people that they serve, a lot of them were the worst hit by COVID-19,” she said. “That little bit of support that we give them twice a year to just maintain their buildings just did not happen.” 

Therefore, Dacy said she enjoyed being able to support and reconnect with the partner sites on Community Volunteer Day.

“When we walked in, at least on my site … it was a mess, and it really looked like no one had been there for a year,” she said. “It felt great to get them back on their feet … And they were super appreciative.” 

Although the fall Community Volunteer Day could take place, Dacy said it is still difficult to predict if the PCA will be able to organize another in March, when the spring version normally takes place. 

“We’re all living a little bit day by day with our fingers crossed, and we don’t know how the winter is going to go,” she said. “Because of this pandemic, we can’t just decide what we’re going to do, how many people and when.”

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About the Contributor
Nick Zirinis
Nick Zirinis, Lead News Editor
Nicholas Zirinis (’23) is the Lead News Editor for The Standard. He initially got into journalism on the Middle School newspaper The Scroll, giving voice to those in the school community and being an asset to informing the student body intrigued him. Since then, Zirinis has taken part in several journalism classes while also attending NSPA and CSPA journalism conventions and participating in summer courses.

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