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FRIENDS ON FOURTH GIVES SERVICE A HOME

A group of Haverford students is trying to make community service an integral part of residential life with a new program called Friends on Fourth. Located on the fourth floor of Barclay Hall and run by the 8th Dimension office, Friends on Fourth was created to make service opportunities more accessible to students, and provide a service-oriented presence in a freshman dorm. It began as a proposal, presented to the Housing Committee, explaining the benefits of having students who are active in volunteer projects live together.

“It gets people involved right off the bat,” says current Friend Elizabeth Gray ‘08.

Each Friend on Fourth student commits to a regular service project, and the group meets at least once a week to discuss its activities. Some residents chose the program to be inspired and influenced by their neighbors’ enthusiasm for volunteering. “I felt like I had not done very much for other people during my freshman year,” says Grant Scribner ‘08, “and I wanted to be more involved in service.”

People Interested in People (PIP), which Elizabeth Gray co-chairs, is one of Friends on Fourth’s popular projects. PIP matches interested students with little “brothers” or “sisters” ages 6 to 12 from Haverford’s neighboring communities.
PIP encourages local families to get involved by advertising in churches and community centers and contacting the parents of children who participated in Serendipity, 8th Dimension’s summer day camp. The group also invites the children of Haverford faculty and staff to participate through notices in Founders Bell and other campus publications.

Big/little activities make the most of Haverford’s natural resources, such as the Duck Pond and the Nature Ttrail (the little sibs are not allowed in students’ dorm rooms or apartments). “Parents usually indicate what their kids are interested in,” says Gray, “and the students can take it from there.” In the future, Gray hopes to organize more group gatherings among the student/child pairs.

“It’s beneficial for the kids to have this one-on-one interaction with a non-parent, and to have an older friend as a role model,” she says. “For the students, it’s nice to connect with someone younger.”

Other Friends on Fourth residents—including Grant Scribner—visit Inglis House, a wheelchair community that serves a broad range of people. “Some are simply without the use of their legs,” explains Scribner, “and some have additional physical and mental disabilities.”

The Haverford students who volunteer at Inglis House help transport the residents to various activities, and play games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit with them. Each student also engages an individual resident in one-on-one conversation.

This semester, the Friends on Fourth plan to create more service opportunities for their residents by volunteering at St. Edmond’s, a home for disabled children in nearby Rosemont, and by starting a series of workdays at John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, near the Philadelphia International Airport. They hope that non-senior students will continue the program next year.

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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