Following an inspirational message from State Rep. Brenda Gilmore and charge to serve their new hometown from Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, Belmont’s Class of 2017 along with new graduate and transfer students volunteered throughout Nashville through the University’s annual SERVE Project on Monday afternoon.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in our community,” Fisher said. “I am grateful for a city like Nashville that gives us so many opportunities to serve,” Fisher told the 1,800 students before they departed campus for several Metro Beautification sites, five Metro Nashville Public Schools and 16 non-profit organizations, including the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm and Bridges for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
An annual “Welcome Week” tradition for more than a decade, SERVE provides a perfect tie-in to Belmont’s ongoing commitment to engage students in their community and encourage the values of service on both a local and global level.
At a West Nashville home, 50 Belmont students helped nonprofit organization Music City Hounds Unbound install a fence for Baby, a 2-year-old pit bull, who has lived most of his life chained to a tree.
“The big thing about service is it is all about love. You don’t really know who needs to be shown love, but when you think about it, everyone needs love,” said Fia Binford, a freshman from Hudson, Ohio, while petting the dog.
Music City Hounds Unbound Director Amy Brown said, “It’s difficult to find a large group of volunteers especially that are capable of putting a fence up. (SERVE) enhances the volunteer experience because they get to see Baby get off the chain. It usually takes our group several weekends to complete a fence project.”
The new classmates also covered the mostly dirt back yard with hay, assembled an insulated dog house and shared toys and treats with Baby, providing a project and services worth $3,000 to the dog’s owner, Brown said.
Sophomore Neal Buckley, a Towering Traditions orientation leader, added, “This is all about team work and making new friends. This project is all about working together and requires communicating and connecting. It’s great for freshmen to let the community know that Belmont is here for them. We are here to learn and grow but also here to serve others.”
At other sites across the city, the new students packed food, toiletries and cleaning supplies for needy families, cleaned facilities, removed graffiti, painted walls and gardened vegetables, among other community service projects.
“SERVE Day is a very important day for Belmont and our students. It sets the tone for our new students because it helps them know that being a part of Belmont means to serve,” said Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart. “In addition to learning about places in the community where they can volunteer, many of the students will see these agencies again as they engage in service-learning courses during their time at Belmont.”