Sharefest: Community Service Builds a Bridge to Carnegie Middle School
More than 100 students, faculty and administrators from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) rolled up their sleeves last month to help spruce up Andrew Carnegie Middle School in Carson. The two-day overhaul of the school, which included painting the school’s mascot on buildings and other signage, landscape work and clearing classrooms of discarded equipment, was organized through the nonprofit organization ShareFest Community Development.
Volunteers from the Latino Student Business Association, Associated Students, Inc., and the Department of Occupational Therapy were joined by CSUDH President Mildred García, and faculty and administrators from the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), including Dean Mitch Maki, Associate Dean Angela Albright, assistant professor of occupational therapy Diane Mayfield, and director of fiscal affairs Andy McDaniel. In addition, ten volunteers from City on a Hill Church in Manhattan Beach partnered with the university in the planning and production of the Sharefest event.
Mike Ernst, chair and professor of kinesiology and recreation, says that the value of CSUDH’s involvement in ShareFest goes beyond giving Carnegie Middle School a facelift.
“The idea of the university connecting with a middle school like this and developing a relationship to be able to have our students do mentoring is not a one-shot deal,” he says. “[Secondary] students aren’t thinking about college...We want to break that pattern, particularly for middle school kids. That’s why we need to develop relationships which we start by doing this type of a project that you see here.”
Ernst, who serves on the board for the Torrance Unified School District, hopes that the Carnegie project and its introduction through Sharefest to CSU Dominguez Hills will open a pipeline to the middle school and the university’s students to mentor the youth.
“ShareFest helped us with this project which in turn introduces us to the school,” he says.“It’s one step at a time, and we want to see where we get. Our hope is to get our students continually involved in the programs and reach out to the middle schools.”
Another benefit of ShareFest’s collaboration with Dominguez Hills is that middle school students are shown that community service as a positive opportunity.
“Usually, students do community service when they’ve done something wrong; it’s like a punishment,” notes Ernst. “We came in by choice to do this project for a group of folks we don’t know. It shows that we care about the community and also about the kids at this particular school. I think that’s a good message.
“When we were [at Carnegie], the kids were thanking us for the work we did. Beyond anything else, they know that the students from Cal State Dominguez Hills did this project and, through that, are beginning to understand the value of community service.”
- Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Student from the Latino Student Business Association "draw the line" for the cafeteria at Carnegie Middle School. Photo courtesy of Mike Ernst