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Hundreds of RI Volunteers Give Middle School New Life

Saturday, September 17, 2011



City Year volunteer Deyan Crow sketches the Gilbert Stuart Middle School’s mascot at center court of the gymnasium prior to paint.

Serve Rhode Island, the state’s largest volunteer service organization, mobilized hundreds of volunteers on Saturday, September 10 to make much-needed improvements to the Gilbert Stuart Middle School in Providence. The effort was part of a National Day of Service in recognition and remembrance of the 10th Anniversary of September 11th. 

Throughout the day, teams of volunteers worked diligently to clean, paint, renovate and landscape the 80-year old school. The goal was to improve the learning environment for the more than 800 students, many of whom are low-income, that call the school home during the academic year. 

“I wanted to be a part of this project because the schools in Providence need the help,” said Amanda Larner, an AmeriCorp volunteer from Cranston. “I think it’s important for everyone to come in here and actually see the school and the students because once you do, it’s impossible to turn your back on them.” 

Hundreds arrived... to help

Volunteers arrived in droves from all corners of the state, and were joined by dedicated teams of AmeriCorp and City Year volunteers. Many volunteers were from the surrounding neighborhoods and included families whose children attend the school.  

“People don’t always think about how the look of the building affects what we do inside with the students,” said Carolina Naranjo-Creel, Principal of Gilbert Stuart Middle School. “However, research shows that when you improve the learning environment it can make a huge difference. Students come to school, and classrooms that have been updated with fresh paint, and they feel more comfortable; ready to learn. It goes a long way in showing how the community cares for them, and cares about where they get their education. It brings out the best in them.”

Preparing for RI's Day of Service

Prep work for Saturday’s enormous Day of Service began on Friday evening, with nearly 40 volunteers erecting staging in the hallways of the school’s 3 floors, washing walls, and organizing hundreds of gallons of paint and supplies. By the time Saturday came to an end, close to 300 volunteers worked more than 1,800 man hours to improve the school. 

“The children that go to school here definitely deserve a beautiful school,” said Jennifer MacNeill, who came down from Woonsocket to volunteer with her young son. “I’m proud to play a part in helping the school look better for the students. I know some paint and landscaping will go a long way in brightening their days.”

Reviving a school

Hallways on each of the 3 floors were rejuvenated in a welcoming shade of yellow while some of the classrooms in dire conditions received a warm shade of blue. And, in the school’s main gymnasium, the center circle received a fresh coat of green paint and a newly-drawn dragon logo; representing the school’s mascot. Outside, a dumpster was filled with trash, debris, weeds and sand that had accumulated over the years across school grounds, stairwells, and sidewalks. 

“This project truly demonstrates what can be accomplished when people come together in support of a common cause,” added Beaudreau. “The students of this school represent our future; tomorrow’s leaders. At the same time, it’s an example of camaraderie that goes a long way in illustrating the importance of volunteerism and the widespread positive it makes in our society.” 

A need that doesn't end on 9/12

Throughout the year, there is a constant need for volunteers across Rhode Island. For example, Gilbert Stuart Middle School is looking for teams of people to give of their time to help tutor students in math and reading. 

“Anyone that wants to get involved with the community, whether its tutoring students, helping at a food pantry, building a playground, or providing assistance during times of disaster should contact Serve Rhode Island. There are opportunities out there for everyone,” finished Beaudreau. 

For more information about volunteering, or to get connected with an opportunity, please call Serve Rhode Island at 331-2298 or visit www.ServeRhodeIsland.org.


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