Students, faculty, staff, friends and neighbors came together in a massive effort to beautify their surrounding communities during California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) first-ever Day of Service.
To kick off the week leading up to the inauguration of the university’s 10th president, Dr. Willie J. Hagan, nearly 250 volunteers lent their time and skills on April 26 helping to beautify a local historical landmark and areas both on and off campus, install an ocean-friendly community garden, and help rebuild areas of Long Beach.
“The Day of Service represents what’s best about this institution,” said President Hagan during his opening remarks on campus. “We’re all in this together, and we [CSUDH] were put in this area to serve the community.”
Welcoming volunteers, Carson Mayor Jim Dear elaborated on how the university was integral to the city of Carson’s success.
“This is a great learning institution, but it’s so much more than that,” he said. “It’s a ‘communi-versity.’”
Volunteers spent their day spread throughout the South Bay, engaging in activities such as beautifying the Child Development Center on campus, Stevenson Park in Carson, as well as cleaning the grotto at the historic Rancho Dominguez Adobe in Compton, and participating in National Rebuilding Day at the Century Village at Cabrillo in Long Beach and its Elizabeth Ann Seton residence.
Hagan also held a ‘ground breaking’ ceremony at University Housing to commemorate an ocean friendly community garden that will be installed thanks to the West Basin Municipal Water District, which under the leadership of Director Ron Smith contributed $40,000 toward the garden, matched by University Housing.
“This garden is a shining example of our partnership with CSUDH,” Smith said. “It shows that individually we can do great things, but together we can do something truly incredible.”
In addition, Carson city officials dedicated a community flower bed with a plaque inscription in honor of Hagan at Stevenson Park, as he and other volunteers participated in adopt-a-park activities. In return, Hagan presented the city with the Outstanding Community Partner Award, showing the university’s commitment to the City of Carson and its residents.
“I don’t see the university as distinct from the community or having borders,” Hagan told the gathered crowd of volunteers and city officials. “We’re a part of them and they are a part of us.”
Dinah Burnside, a freshman physical therapy student at CSU Dominguez Hills, cleaned the grass area of the park, raking leaves and painting chipped park benches. As a Los Angeles native, she said she’s never truly seen how involved a school can be with its surrounding community until she arrived at CSUDH.
“I like how the university really makes an effort to give back to the community,” Burnside said. “It’s not just a great way to make new friends and meet new people, it’s a great way to get involved.”
Burnside and other volunteers planted a tree in honor of the commemoration at Stevenson Park, while volunteers at other locations such as the Child Development Center at CSU Dominguez Hills sanitized toys and created a community garden on the playground.
“Our Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens our communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and demonstrates that, above all, Dominguez Hills is making a difference,” said Cheryl McKnight, event organizer and director of the Office of Service-Learning, Internships and Community Engagement (SLICE) at CSU Dominguez Hills.
The CSUDH Day of Service was sponsored by the CSUDH Office of Service-Learning, Internships and Community Engagement (SLICE), CSUDH Associated Students, Inc., and Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.