Upward Bound students give back to community

Shamira Fowler

Some students in Upward Bound who once depended on help from the Salvation Army had the opportunity to experience what it is like to be on the giving end of the spectrum.

On June 27, these students lent a helping hand at the Salvation Army in Ravenna.

“Although it’s selfish, they needed a chance to know how good it feels to give back,” said Bonnie Richardson-Berry, the assistant director of Upward Bound PREP Academy.

Upward Bound is a grant-funded program that helps high school students overcome cultural and social boundaries they may face as first generation college students. The program recently received $250,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help continue its work with students.

“We wanted them to participate in something where they felt like they were giving back,” Berry said. “I think its vital to their development as human beings to learn to give back.”

Students in the Upward Bound PREP Academy completed various custodial tasks, including mopping, vacuuming, organizing school supplies and cleaning the nursery.

Major Jacki Blanchard, pastor and commander at the Salvation Army, said all the work the students completed at the church was important because the

Salvation Army’s funds do not provide it enough money to hire a custodian.

“It was truly a blessing to have them help us get our building ready both for Sunday services and for the many community service things we do with our social services and learning center,” Blanchard said.

Students in the program agreed the program is beneficial for the transition into college, as it gives students access to the same technology, classroom atmosphere and living conditions as a college student.

“It gives students a jump-start on college who don’t have that opportunity,” said Ryan Edmonson, a former Upward Bound participant.

Aakash Patel, a first time participant in Upward Bound, said the program helped him adjust to college life.

“You can figure out how college life goes, (with) budgeting and stuff,” he said.

Lori Ahart, a second-time participant in the program, said the program helped her develop a sense of balance in an environment that is different from high school.

Contact minority affairs reporter Shamira Fowler at [email protected].