Students renovate Ravenna ministry for National TRIO Day, Super Service Saturday

J’niah Davidson, a senior global communication major (left), Eldana Ryskulova, a sophomore economy major (center), and Lexie Pozega, a sophomore communications major (right) paint walls of the Upper Room Ministry in Ravenna on Saturday with Habitat for Humanity.

Volunteer groups consisting of Kent State students, faculty and staff helped Habitat for Humanity of Portage County renovate Upper Room Ministries in Ravenna as part of Super Service Saturdays and National TRIO Day of Service on Saturday.

National TRIO Day, celebrated annually on the last Saturday of February, is a day of reflection and action focused on “increasing access to higher education for disadvantaged students,” according to the Pell Institute. Federal TRIO programs assist low-income and first-generation students, and the university has five federal TRIO programs: Upward Bound Classic, Upward Bound Math/Science, Upward Bound Public Health, Student Support Services and The McNair Scholars Program, according to Kent State’s TRIO Programs’ website.

Each program is funded by the United States Department of Education and is dedicated to providing “educational opportunities for Americans — regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance.”

TRIO Day encourages students to give back to the community in a number of ways, such as building homes with Habitat for Humanity, cleaning public areas, assisting Salvation Army or volunteering at the Humane Society, according to the Council for Opportunity in Education.

Kent  State students and volunteers painted and cleaned up Upper Room Ministries located in Ravenna, assisting with Habitat for Humanity of Portage County’s goal to complete renovations by April 28. There are plans to possibly build a small library corner.

J’niah Davidson, a senior global communications major, painted a wall in Upper Room Ministries and enjoyed her first time volunteering.

“I just like helping out and giving back,” Davidson said.

Habitat for Humanity was happy to have student help. Volunteers work Wednesdays and Thursdays and hope to complete the work in time, said Dominique Burrell, the community director of Habitat for Humanity of Portage County.

“Renovations take anywhere from six to seven months,” Burrell said.

Eddie Harris, who has been a pastor at Upper Room Ministries for the last 15 years, and his wife Toni Harris were thrilled with the volunteers’ help and loved interacting with the students.

Will Dobbins has been volunteering since 2007 and said the reason he keeps coming back to help is “seeing the expression on the family’s face when they get the keys to their new house.”

Sara Donato is a photographer. She can be contacted at [email protected]

McKenna Corson is the managing editor. She can be contacted at [email protected]