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Volunteers Embrace Clean Up at StonyBrook- Make a Difference Day 2015

By: Katie O’Marra, CPDC ServiceWorks

cpdc-serviceworks-team-katie-o-marra-bioIn these early stages of facilitating ServiceWorks, every event still comes with a degree of uncertainty.

Last Saturday’s Make a Difference Day project was no exception.

I was unsure whether my small team of scholars who had planned the event would show up, let alone if any other volunteers would. And would they hate our task: to divide and conquer in collecting trash from areas surrounding Stony Brook Apartments?

Magically, some 60 volunteers did come out that morning! And with the motivation of some donuts and coffee, our volunteers enthusiastically embraced the challenge to clean up.

As groups returned from the now immaculate streets of South County Alexandria, they seemed tired but elated. They compared how much trash they bagged (80 bags total) and the odd sort of things they found discarded (grocery carts, scrap metal, old bikes).

I asked my team of planners how they thought the event went. Most of them agreed: “It was more fun than I expected.” They said they felt proud of how clean the streets looked, and felt a greater sense of ownership and belonging in the neighborhood after a few hours of working on it.

“They felt proud of how clean the streets looked, and felt a greater sense of ownership and belonging in the neighborhood…”

My personal sense of accomplishment came when I asked them for a critique of the event—something they’d do differently if we did this again someday. They all agreed on only one thing they’d change: they wished it was longer! 


Katie O’Marra is a native New Yorker and recent graduate of Fordham University in the Bronx, where she studied International Political Economy, Sociology, and Arabic. She brings to ServiceWorks a passion for building strong communities in service—a mission fortified during her years as an executive board member and team leader for Global Outreach service projects. These interests were further realized during Katie’s six month journey in Amman, Jordan where she worked with an NGO to bring sports camp to girls taking refuge in Jordan from their homelands of Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. Katie hopes to continue creating intentional and safe communities for young people of all backgrounds in her work as a ServiceWorks VISTA at CPDC.


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