Wilmington College is known throughout the community for having a rich Quaker heritage which runs through the veins of the campus. One of Wilmington College’s core values is Service and Civic Engagement. The Center for Civic for Service & Civic Engagement is the pure embodiment of this core value. The goal for this center is to help students. It is intended to help engage them and to challenge them to take responsibility and action toward common good. This program embraces the Quaker heritage of the college and strives to teach students successful ways of gaining awareness of the world around them and the value that comes with knowing truth and justice.
Grow Food, Grow Hope Garden Initiative (GFGH), which is a service project sponsored by Wilmington College, was created in 2009 to raise awareness of buying local. With the economic struggles that Wilmington experienced after the departure of DHL, many families were put in financial situations they could not have predicted. What GFGH set out to do was alleviate the struggle many families had been facing. Grow Food, Grow Hope attacked this issue through education, community outreach and gardening. This effort found support from AmeriCorps. GFGH over the years has received funding and nine VISTA volunteers. Along with help from AmeriCorps, GFGH has partnered with Clinton Country Farmers Market and the Buy Local First Clinton County campaign along with numerous other organizations in the community.
With the help from AmeriCorps, organizations throughout the community and volunteers, GFGH has managed to expand their outreach further than originally planned. However, Grow Food, Grow Hope has recently had to find ways of making the program more self-sufficient. This is the last year that the program will receive support from AmeriCorps. “This means that GFGH will rely even more on volunteers in hopes to later create programs that will be run solely by those volunteers,” according to AmeriCorps VISTA Nellie Ashmore. The VISTAs have also been assigned individual projects to take steps toward ensuring that programs can still be run once they are gone. Some of those tasks have included creating instruction manuals on how to operate specific projects.
Volunteering and Community Service are a large part of not only Wilmington College, but also the entire community. It’s only through this Quaker core value and continued support from Wilmington College and the community that projects like Grow Food, Grow Hope will be able to continue their mission on the level to which they have grown accustom.