Alyssa Wilson ~ Assistant Editor
On the second Saturday of every month, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at University of Lynchburg hosts a service plunge for its students to go into the community and serve the chosen nonprofit organization that month.
This month, CCE chose the service plunge to be at the Pierce Street Gateway, which includes the Pierce Street Community Garden and the Anne Spencer House; both of which were volunteer sites for students to choose from on Saturday, Feb. 12.
Pierce Street, a historically black neighborhood in Lynchburg, is rich with history.
Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer, one of the many aspects of the time, home has become a museum partially operated by her granddaughter Shaun Spencer-Hester, who led the volunteers who chose to serve at the museum.
Caleb Adams, a freshman, volunteered at the Anne Spencer house. Adams said, “When we got to the Anne Spencer house, Mrs. Spencer-Hester said that the outside windows hadn’t been cleaned since 2020, and so she had us clean the windows in the back of the house.”
In addition, the group placed at the Anne Spencer house also picked up trash along the street and side streets surrounding the museum.
Adams added, “I went on the trip with some other students from Dimensions of Diversity because Anne Spencer had an important role in the Harlem Renaissance and it’s important to have a place to learn about local black history. To continue to have these places, it’s our duty to help out whenever we can.”
After students were finished with their tasks for the day, Spencer-Hester took students on an in-depth tour of her grandmother’s home and garden.
Freshman, Josiah Randals said, “Learning something new everyday is what I strive to do. Before we went, I did a lot of research about her [Anne Spencer] and all the great things she’s done. Getting the opportunity to see her house and to keep her house looking great is the reason why I went.”
Several students also volunteered at Pierce Street Community Garden, which helps to provide its neighbors with fresh, free produce and opportunity to see how that food is grown.
Pierce Street is located in a food desert (meaning that there is no close, affordable access to healthy foods), and aims to help pull its residents out of this food desert.
The garden is currently growing many vegetables such as bok choy, radishes, kale, and spring onions.
Freshman, Olivia Upton helped prepare the garden ready for spring planting.
Upton said, “ I think the Pierce Street Community Garden is a great project as it helps combat the issue of food insecurity here in Lynchburg in a sustainable way that strengthens the whole community. As someone who likes to garden myself, I definitely enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working with the amazing people that make the garden what it is.”
If you are interested, CCE hosts service plunges every month and sends out a newsletter with upcoming events and opportunities every Thursday for you to learn more about how to get involved in the community, both on campus and at large.