RMU students volunteer at local nonprofit organizations for spring Day of Service


Several RMU students volunteered with Animal Advocates during the 2020 “Day of Service.” Photo Credit: (Animal Advocates)

John Blinn, News Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP – More than thirty Robert Morris University students ventured into Moon Township on Jan. 18 to volunteer to help at various local organizations for RMU’s annual “Day of Service.”

Volunteers were able to help animals and humans alike as they worked alongside World Vision, Animal Advocates, Global Links and West Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center.

This semester’s Day of Service was built by Anna Kowalok-Lewis, a current graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh. Part of her curriculum requires an assistantship which brought her to RMU as a program assistant for community development.

While RMU typically holds its Day of Service in the fall semester, Kowalok-Lewis decided to add a second, this time in the spring semester as well.

“In previous years, they only did one in the fall, so this is the first time it is going to be both semesters,” said Kowalok-Lewis.

Kowalok-Lewis hopes that the event will not only benefit the community but also students who wish to do more on campus and during their college career.

“We want students to participate on campus and within the community,” said Kowalok-Lewis. “By having two Days of Service annually we will be able to get that word out a little more and be able to bring more of those students who are kind of in their shell to just break out a little bit more.”

Kowalok-Lewis went on to explain that volunteering is one of the most ideal ways to begin to get involved, especially for beginners who wish to make a difference.

“I think the collegiate experience is about getting involved,” said Kowalok-Lewis. “Students who typically don’t exert themselves into something, this is a time to do it and it’s a time where it is a small group of students, going to help another human being and I think that is something that we tend to lack in society. That willingness to help others.”

Not only did the Day of Service enhance student involvement within their college careers at Robert Morris, but it also enhanced preexisting relationships between the non-profit organizations and the university.

“RMU students have been volunteering with Global Links on a regular basis for many years,” said outreach and engagement manager of Global Links, Stacy Bodow. “As always, their efforts on the Day of Service did not disappoint. They spent time sorting and packing medical supplies to help convert our region’s healthcare surplus into life-saving and life-improving donations. Thanks to their efforts, these items will help low-income communities access the medical items they need.”

This was not the first time that Robert Morris students had engaged with Global Links, with the university’s Greek Life working with the organization in the past.

“Most of the fraternities and sororities go there and a lot of our students go there so out of the 15 spots we had available, 13 filled up. I hope in the future we will be able to create more of those,” said Kowalok-Lewis.

While students at Global Links worked to prepare medical supplies, others began processing a book donation, helping with building and inventorying pallets.

“We have a great partnership with RMU, we are grateful that it is growing from just the service end at the school, to the sororities and fraternities along with members from the residence halls,” said Laura Kennedy of World Vision. “College students bring a sense of maturity, independence along with lots of good energy.”

A third group of students spent their time lending a hand to those with paws at Animal Advocates.

“Seven young women participated,” said a representative of Animal Advocates. “They were cheerful, willing workers. Some of the duties they performed at our facility were: clearing and reorganizing storage shelves in our downstairs restroom, sweeping and mopping in our upstairs cattery, scooping litter boxes, cleaning\dusting cat trees, clearing and reorganizing upstairs linen closet. They also gave our resident rescued AdvoCats extra love, petting, and playtime. Something about the RMU volunteers that impressed me was that once we gave them a list of chores to be done they quickly and effectively delegated duties among themselves. It was also noted and appreciated that they showed up despite the icy, snowy weather.”

This was the first time that Robert Morris had worked with Animal Advocates and Kowalok-Lewis is hopeful to continue to explore opportunities for the future with the organization.

“Of course all residents love animals, hopefully with Animal Advocates, we will be able to create more of that strong relationship and maybe bring some of those animals on campus for, maybe a stress day before finals.”

So far, the event has been received positively by students and the Office of Residence Life continues to adjust based off of their experiences.

“Students love going to it,” said Kowalok-Lewis, “We do assessment reports after it to see if they maybe wanted to have something different, if they really enjoyed it, if they didn’t enjoy it so we know how to base it for the next year.”

Overall, Kowalok-Lewis hopes that students were able to take something away from the experience and grow as individuals through volunteering.

“You’re given these opportunities, take them,” Kowalok-Lewis said. “You just need to come with a positive attitude and an open mind and just be willing to learn from these organizations, and hopefully through that, you’ll be able to maybe discover something about yourself.”