By Tamara Roberts
Always in search of ways to involve students in community affairs, Dr. Christine Pappas, assistant professor of political science at East Central University, joined forces with Barbara Seals, student and Hammond Heights resident, last year to create the idea for a service project that would meet a need in the secluded community. The project was named Week of Work and was financed through a grant from Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honorary.
During the second annual Week of Work, which took place March 27- 31, members of Pi Sigma Alpha and many other students from East Central University, including the Young Democrats, College Republicans and a few Greek organizations, along with members of the community, performed minor repairs and improvements in the Hammond Heights community of Ada. Some of the jobs completed by workers were repair of dilapidated porches and steps, construction of new porches, painting of homes both inside and out, hedge trimming, planting trees in Harris Park, and clean up of brush and debris. Approximately 100 volunteers from ECU took part.
This year, members of the Chi Omega Sorority, headed by Raye Hall, a senior political science major, incorporated an “Art Camp” into the week that was held at the St. James Church. Children of all ages were welcomed to participate in such projects as planting potted flowers, making necklaces, coloring and painting. At the end of the week, the children were invited to make their mark on the community by placing their handprints into a pad of freshly poured concrete at the southeast corner of Ware and Orange in Hammond Heights. The concrete will serve as a reminder of the project’s experience for years to come. Delanie Seals, 5, attended the art camp and enjoyed the handprint project. “It was fun to put my hand in the cement,” she said.
When Pappas was asked to name the most important attribute of the Week of Work, she said, “Hammond Heights is my favorite neighborhood in Ada because the sense of community is so strong. For me and my students to get to be a part of that community for even just one week is a great experience.”
One volunteer, Deloris Beard, a senior Legal Studies major from Wanette, stated “It’s good to give back to the community and especially to help with the little kids. It gives them a place to go that is fun and where they can learn. Every college student should volunteer to help build their own character.” Beard worked at the Art Camp in the afternoon, and painted a house during the Week of Work.
Shelia Sturgeon, who has lived in Hammond Heights off and on for the past 10 years, worked with the ECU students every day during the Week of Work, both on her own house and for others as well. She painted, helped build, hauled brush and picked up trash.
“I’ll help do anything to upgrade and help the community look better – cut grass, paint, whatever, even if it’s not in this community,” Sturgeon said.
Sturgeon said what she liked about the Week of Work was it “makes the property I live on look better and everybody likes to have a nice house. I enjoyed putting in my time and energy and I met a different crowd of people. It was good for me.”
The week was capped off with a cookout held at Sturgeon’s house. All were welcome to eat and reminisce over the occurrences of the week. About 35 people attended. Barbara Seals, who arranged the cookout, has lived in Hammond Heights for about 10 years, and her husband Reggie was born and raised there. “I just want to thank the corporate sponsors who made it all possible,” she said.
(Tamara Roberts is a senior political science major from Sulphur. She graduates in May.)
By Tamara Roberts