Converse Freshman Class Gives Weekend of Community Service During Summer SERVE

By Gary Henderson for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Keana Carey said washing puppies at Spartanburg’s Humane Society shelter Saturday helped lessen the loss after the death of her own pet. “My doggie got put to sleep awhile back, and I miss her,” said Carey, an incoming Converse College freshman volunteer from Beaufort, S.C. “I love doing this. It makes the community a better place.”

Carey and freshman Megan King from Clinton, spent much of the weekend bathing stray puppies that animal control officers or the public dropped off at the shelter on Dexter Road. The two students are part of Summer SERVE, a program set up by Converse College to acquaint incoming freshmen with Spartanburg and to show ways they can serve the community while they are here. Carey and King are part of the first session held during the July 11-13 weekend. Another group will work in Spartanburg August 1-3.

“This is pretty awesome,” King said as the puppy she bathed splashed soap and water on everyone close to the sink. “I hope I get to do this when school starts.” King and Carey worked as the yelping sounds of puppies from 48 cages filled the room. “They all are yelping until we hold them,” Carey said. “Then, it’s like, ‘man this is cool.’ ”

Danica Lance, a Converse junior who is a leader with this year’s summer program, worked alongside two other incoming freshmen cleaning animal carriers in the shelter’s garage. Lance said 33 freshmen signed up for this first session of the program. Another session, with a group approximately the same size, will start later this month. This is the fourth summer freshmen have participated in the program. “Some of the people I met at Summer SERVE are still my best friends,” said Lance, who is an interior design major.

Inside, Molly Smith from Nashville, Tenn., and Deidre Tindal from Sumter cleaned and washed animal cages. Tindal said she volunteered with her church and with the Beta Club at school. “This is a way to met friends,” Tindal said as she held a squeegee she used to push water to drains. “I hope I can volunteer here or somewhere in Spartanburg when school starts.” Smith said she planned to volunteer in Spartanburg, even before she heard of Summer SERVE. She too thought the weekend would be a good way to meet her future classmates.

Converse has a long history of its students helping out in Spartanburg. During World War II, students and professors, worked to help harvest Spartanburg County’s peach and cotton crops because so many farm workers were away on active military service.

Kristin Watkins, Assistant Dean of Students at Converse, said approximately 70 incoming freshmen have volunteered for the program. “We want (the freshmen) to think of themselves as part of the Spartanburg community,” Watkins said. “We want them to find some opportunity to volunteer.”

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