College and university presidents and Campus Compact state coordinators from around the country unite to discuss community partnerships as well as college access and readiness.
Better Together, an interfaith nationwide college movement that promotes interfaith collaborative community service, inspired the University of La Verne’s Grow Better Together community engagement event.
Members of the Interfaith Student Council at the University of La Verne are working together to help feed those in need. Over the course of two weeks, students participated in the “Grow Better Together” community service project, volunteering their time and energy to plant vegetables at community gardens and distributing food to the needy.
Better Together is a movement of the Interfaith Youth Core, which supports members of different faiths coming together for the common good.
Senior anthropology major and council member, Daisy Aldana, said it all began with a Better Together conference in Chicago attended by several council members in June.
“People from different places can work together regardless of their differences,” Aldana said.
The event kicked off on a rainy Saturday, Dec 1. La Verne President Devorah Lieberman came to show her support and encourage students in their efforts to help the community.
“As a president of this university I am not only humbled, but honored because they are not only the role models for the entire campus, but they are role models for me,” Lieberman said. “This event is the tip of the iceberg for the Interfaith council and is symbolic for what they stand for.”
After gathering at La Verne and sharing their ideas about service and sharing their backgrounds, students split up to attend two events at Constantine Family Garden in San Dimas and Sowing Seeds for Life at Ganesha Park.
Students at Constantine Family Gardens helped weed plant beds, pick vegetables and clean out vegetable beds that provide produce for food shelters.
“The community comes together and grows with the idea of helping the community,” garden owner, Tim Constantine, said.
Community members who came to Ganesha Park for canned and boxed foods were greeted by students who helped pass out the goods.
“This event is not simply a community service project. The main objective for this event is to further the concept of Better Together – to work together across differences to contribute positively to the community, to change the world, or solve problems together,” University Chaplain, Zandra Wagoner said.
“It’s nice seeing people give their Saturdays to grow some vegetables and help people who are excited to get vegetables,” Aldana said.
“It was humbling and it brought me back down to earth,” Freshman Psychology major Roxana Bautista said. “It’s nice to give back to the community.”
Also scheduled for Dec 1 was the planting of vegetables at Peace and Carrots Community Garden located on the Church of the Brethren property in La Verne. However, bad weather postponed the activity until Dec. 14.
The president of the Interfaith Student Council, senior Tiffany Koval, and her team made it a priority to show up and finish the work they had begun.
“We are here to engage and act together for the common good,” Koval said.
The Peace and Carrots Community Garden was started by husband and wife Mike and Michael Wolfson three years ago with the continuous help and support of University of La Verne students.
“When we first started three years ago, we had about 20 University of La Verne students here helping break ground,” Wolfson, said. “And through the years, they continue to lend a hand, like they did on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
Wolfson said they pick produce every week and take it down to the Beta center for Inland Valley Hope Partners.
The goal for the Grow Better Together project is to feed the hungry, create relationships with the community, establish a connection with participants and promote a sustainable environment.
“I hope that they know they made a positive difference,” Wagoner said.
— Story by Susan Acker and Mark Vidal, for Voice Online