Nicole Zelniker, World & Nation Editor
September 4, 2015
The Bonner Center for Community Service and Learning is in its 24th year at Guilford College, and it is doing more than ever before.
This year, Guilford’s community service organization is implementing three themes: homelessness and hunger, forced migration and food insecurity.
“There are pretty clear links,” said senior Hunger Fellow Marek Wojtala. “People experiencing homelessness are also dealing with hunger.”
The Bonner Center staff hopes to build connections to the wider Greensboro community through these initiatives.
“It’s a way for us to emphasize what’s going on in the community in terms of having an emphasis on hunger (and) immigration,” said the Bonner Center Director James Shields ’00.
According to the Bonner Center Volunteer Training Coordinator Andrew Young, the three main themes are going to help the various project coordinators unite.
“We’re recognizing (these themes) as ongoing problems,” said Young, “and it unites (the projects).”
Bonner leaders are already excited about making new connections, particularly because they see so many already.
“Church Under the Bridge deals with homelessness, but we also deal with food insecurity because not everyone at CUB is homeless,” said Bonner Center High-Impact Intern and sophomore Savannah Dew. “The (local) mobile market … works with the homeless populations. If you’re homeless, you typically don’t have a lot of access to food.”
The goal is to spread the wealth of knowledge at each site to everyone.
“All the sites can really benefit from what the others are doing,” said the Bonner Center Community Scholar Coordinator Susan May ’10. “If we put our resources together, we can really … have a higher impact.”
Students like sophomore Donzah Pirtre, the African Youth Initiative and CUB project coordinator, are already working with multiple sites. According to Pitre, AYI has been working with eLimu, a tutoring site for African children.
“Without education, these kids aren’t going to be able to support their families,” said Pitre.
Groups like CUB and Community Kitchens Project are also doing a lot of work together.
“It all connects to raising the standard of living,” said CUB project coordinator and junior Bonner Connor Pruitt. “Greensboro ranks number four in the nation for people without food. Homelessness has a lot to do with food issues.”
Like hunger, many of these issues relate to the community.
“There are a lot of issues that us as a community really care about, but as you get higher and higher, there’s more and more of that disconnect,” said senior Bonner scholar Ben Evans. “It’s important that we make our voices heard.”
As for students without a Bonner scholarship, there are still plenty of reasons to get involved.
“The people doing this work offer different perspectives,” said former Bonner scholar Noelle Lane ’15. “The support that you’ll get in your field work will make your academic work that much better.”
Virtually all Bonner projects are available to everyone.
“Our projects are open to every student on campus,” said May. “It can serve as your work study job (or) just get involved.”
Getting involved is easy as well.
“Do work study or community scholars, PPS, MLSP,” said Dew. “Go by the MED department. Stop by the Bonner house. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can find it. You just have to stop by and ask.”