Posted by: caronmwlu | May 17, 2012

2012 Bonner Scholar First-Year Trip to Big Ugly Creek

Over W&L’s spring break, 14 Bonner Scholars traveled to Big Ugly, W. Va. to work with the non-profit Step by Step in Big Ugly and Charleston, W.Va. Check out the students’ reflections about the trip and photos below.

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The first-year Bonners spent time working with an afterschool program at South Park, a low-income housing complex in Charleston W.Va. They had the chance to help the kids with their schoolwork and to spend time playing with them and building relationships. Throughout the week they handpicked books for each of the kids in the program and wrote a letter to them telling them about their own favorite books and why reading is so important. On our last day with the kids, the Bonners had the chance to deliver the books.

 “My favorite memory was when we gave away the books to the kids at South Park. Many, if not all of these kids, did not have their own books at home, and although it seemed to be something small to us, it was huge to them. They started naming the order of their favorites, and instantly showed them off to everyone. Also, the kids brought their books to the playground and read while playing. They just didn’t want to put them down!” (Meredith Roberts, ’14)

“The first day we spent at South Park tutoring, I met J* and B*, two fourth grade girls. I tutored them and then played with them outside for an hour or so, teaching them to swing dance. They in turn taight me how to hip hop dance. We then spent a few hours collecting and handpicking books for the children we had been tutoring, so I picked out half a dozen or so books for J and B. After giving them the books, I found out J had never owned a book before. They ran outside, but instead of playing, they read their new books on the playground. It made all our work completely worth it.” (Jenny Bulley, ’14)

“I really loved hanging out with J* at South Park.  It’s hard to pick one highlight from our trip, but it was super adorable seeing her face light up when she got her pile of books and read my letter.  It was also really awesome to see how excited she was to read them.  After she did her homework, we just sat outside and read all the books.  She’s really smart, so I tried to pick books that would challenge her, and it’s cool to know that she is interested in them and actually wants to read them.” (Josy Tarantini, ’15)

“Although working with kids is not usually my favorite volunteer activity, A* at South Park was great to work with. She came right up to me the first day and asked if I would help her, and every day she would finish her homework with me even if kids around her weren’t cooperating. She gave me a huge hug on the last day and was genuinely appreciative of everything the volunteers did for her.” (Kate LeMasters, ’15)

One of the group’s activities that week was helping to clean-up the Big Ugly Creek and to build rock jetties to divert the river during floods. (The community has been hard hit in recent years with destructive floods that have shut-down roads, flooded basements, and even washed away a couple homes.) This was a great opportunity for the students to get to meet some local community members.

 “My favorite memory was of the last day at Big Ugly with D*. I enjoyed speaking with her and hearing her life story from her life in Big Ugly. I also feel like that was a productive time in our trip, as well, in helping community members. (David Thomas, ’15)

“Most of the time it is quite easy to forget about how others live when you are so focused on your own life and experiences (especially around exam time). However, getting to help and play with the kids in Big Ugly was a great eye opener for me, and it was a lot of fun. While being a Bonner is wonderful, I go through the motion of volunteering so frequently that sometimes I find myself forgetting why I love it so much. However, working with those kids really made me remember what volunteering is all about! Being able to get M* to talk to me and help him with his homework, and singing with M* really made me happy, and hopefully made them happy too. Although our actions sometimes seem very small, it’s important to realize that even the smallest actions have the biggest impact, and that our time volunteering constantly helps change the lives of others.”

*Names have been left out.

Sophomore Bonner Meredith Roberts

Why do I do service? I would love to say that I do it purely out of altruism, because I cannot justify seeing people in despair and pain. This is partially true, but if you spend hours every week serving, you know that there is more to this. Serving has become a way of life. It is not even something you choose to do, it is something I have grown to need. Every time I go to a service site, I realize I may not help anyone today, and that’s okay, because giving my time and aid helps me feel grounded to reality.

This school so often engulfs our lives, between the academic, social, and extracurricular life. Getting a B on a test seems like the end of the world. Now put that in context to going to the Social Services office and meeting a child that has been malnourished at only months old. Compare that to countless women who are being mentally, physically, and sexually abused in this same town. All of the sudden big deals become small matters.

Serving gives you a chance to change someone’s life, but it is guaranteed that someone will change yours.The countless stories I carry with me every day have shaped me into the person I have become.

I don’t serve for the hours or the boost to my resume; I serve because I would lose myself without these people that I meet every week.

When people ask about Bonner and I tell them we agree to 900 hours of service in 2 years, they are shocked. But if you really think about it, 900 hours is nothing. In two years there are 17,520 hours, divide 900 by that and you get about 5%. As Bonners we spend only 5% of our two years of college serving, which means we spend 95% of the two years just for us. We sleep, eat, do work, worry about work, make lists, talk to friends, cry, laugh, and so much more. In that 5% if we can change just one person’s life for the better than it’s worth it.

That’s why I do service, because it brings hope. It show’s me that sad stories have happy moments, that that truly caring about someone can change the course of their life. So many individuals have helped me and without them I wouldn’t be here, and I would not have the opportunity to devote time to others. It is this hope for myself and for others that inspires me to serve.

— Meredith Roberts, ’14, First-Year Bonner

Posted by: caronmwlu | December 15, 2011

Bonner Holiday Party!

Check out photos from our Bonner Holiday Party on Dec. 8!

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(Thanks, Stephanie, for taking so many great photos!)

As I have begun to look back over the past few years at W&L, thinking about the memories that have shaped my college experience, it’s remarkable to me how much my service in the community has really defined the course of my college career. The hours I have spent with the Campus Kitchen or tutoring at Maury River and Lylburn Downing or participating in Volunteer Venture and other service-related activities have provided me with more memories and certainly more lasting knowledge that most of my classes. I am beginning to realize just how much I am going to miss the people at the Magnolia Center and the kids at the Office on Youth, who I have grown to love over the past several years. Once I graduate, that routine of consistent service will be disrupted, and I do not think I realized what a crucial part of my life it has become until recently, when I am getting ready to leave it behind.

Part of this deep connection I feel to those I interact with during my service can be attributed to the longevity and intensity of my service. Thanks to the motivation of the Bonner Program to get me started, I have developed a certain attitude about service: it must be consistent and meaningful. I cannot make an impact on an organization if I am not a dedicated volunteer. I cannot serve someone if I am not intentional in my relationship with him or her. Service Learning, the Bonner Program, and the community have not only shown me how much fun it is to serve or how important it is to serve, but how to serve. Giving a client a plate of spaghetti is great, but serving the whole person by getting to know and building a friendship with him or her is much better. It is because of this attitude towards service that I have developed, realizing the potential it has to truly change lives, that I appreciate the Bonner Program so much.  ~ Shiri Yadlin, ’12

Posted by: caronmwlu | March 23, 2011

Second-Year Service Exchange at W&L!


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On March 19, our W&L Bonner Program hosted the annual Virginia Bonner Service Exchange. Bonners from University of Richmond and Lynchburg College traveled to Lexington for day of service and discussions around the topics of hunger and homelessness.

Students spent the morning interacting through a poverty simulation and learning about national and regional plans to end homelessness. In the afternoon they headed out to volunteer at a variety of local hunger relief and housing nonprofits (The Campus Kitchens at Washington and Lee, LexRock Grows, Project Horizon, and Habitat for Humanity).  

Students had the opportunity to meet Bonners from other schools, to learn more about hunger and homelessness, and to brainstorm ways they can help combat these issues in their own communities.

Posted by: caronmwlu | March 23, 2011

Now that’s a lot of food!


As part of our second-year service exchange, our Bonner Program challenged the Bonners at the University of Richmond and Lynchburg college to organize a food drive at their schools to benefit hunger relief organizations in their own communities.

The W&L Bonner Program decided to build on the current basketball hysteria and developed a March Madness Food Drive. Fifteen teams signed up and points were awarded for food and monetary donations. (1 point for each donated item, 2 points for items from our agencies’ wish lists, and 3 points for every $1 donated.) All donations benefited the Campus Kitchens at Washington and Lee (CKWL) and The Community Table of Buena Vista 

And the results are in! Our campus collected 1,601 pounds of non-perishable food and raised $917.32!

We would like to thank everyone in the W&L community who  donated to the March Madness Food Drive. We would especially like to thank our teams:

  1. Quest Scholars 2971 points
  2. Kappa Delta (Juniors) – 544 points
  3. Kappa Kappa Gamma (Team 1) – 420 points
  4. Kappa Alpha – 285 points
  5. Kappa Delta (First-Years, Team 2) – 269 points
  6. Kappa Kappa Gamma (Team 4) – 195 points
  7. Kappa Delta (Sophomores) – 137 points
  8. Team Alpha Delta Pi (Team 1) – 116 points
  9. Kappa Delta  (First Years, Team 1) – 63 points
  10. Kappa Kappa Gamma (Team 3) – 60 points
  11. Kappa Kappa Gamma (Team 2) – 42 points
  12. Athletic Department – 33 points
  13. ITS – 48 points
  14. Team Alpha Delta Pi (Team 2) – 15 points
  15. Kappa Delta Seniors – 12 points
Posted by: caronmwlu | February 28, 2011

“Bonner Love” on the Birmingham Alt Break Trip

Bonners on the Birmingham Alternative Break Trip spelling out "Bonner"

Six Bonners participated in Nabor Service League’s alternative break trip to Birmingham this past week.

The group of 14 students worked with Alabama A+, Focus First, and the Cornerstone School. They tutored youth,  screened students for hearing and vision impairments, and encouraged Birmingham area youth to enroll in summer enrichment tutoring programs.

Posted by: caronmwlu | December 17, 2010

Semester Wrap-up


It’s hard to believe that the Fall semester is already over. It’s been a great semester with the W&L Bonner Program. Check out some of our accomplishments/milestones:

1. Four-Year Program. This fall marked our expansion into a four-year Bonner Leaders Program. Imagine what 40 Bonner Leaders can do over 4 years!  

2. Welcome to our new Bonners! This October we welcomed our newest group of First-Years Bonners into our fold. Congratulations to Liz Adamson, ’14; Blaise Buma, ’13; Charlotte Collins, ’14; Melissa Derby, ’14; Kalli Havens, ’13; Daniel Hsu, ’14; Katja Kleine, ’14; Hilary Nelson, ’14; Cindy Rivas, ’14; Ellie Stoops, ’14; Alvin Thomas, ’14; and Angelica Tillander, ’14. This group of 12 has added a great dynamic to our already strong Bonner group and brings our total to 30 active Bonner Leaders!

3. Nabors Service Day — Team Bonner! Check out our photos from Nabors Service Day. The Bonner Team helped prepare CKWL’s community garden for winter.

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4. End of semester reflection.

During our end of semester reflection, the words "fun," "educational," "rewarding," "eye-opening," and "enlightening" came up the most.

A “wordle” of our end of semester reflection gives a good indication of what Bonner is like. While there are some challenges, the words “fun” and “rewarding”  popped up ALOT!


 We’ve got a lot to look forward to as we move into the next semester:

1. Second-Year Service Exchange at W&L with the University of Richmond, Lynchburg College, and Ferrum College on March 19!

2. First-Year Service Trip to Big Ugly Creek, West Virginia.

Stay tuned for more news about these events!

Posted by: karcherk11 | December 2, 2010

Almost done!

I feel like I have been saying that I am “almost done” with everything lately–almost done with my term papers, almost done with my dance show, almost done completing my lab science requirement, almost done with college.  And almost done with Bonner.  My two years in Bonner have been by far the most formative years of my college experience at W&L.  Not only have I gotten to know so many different, funny, intelligent, and inspiring students that I might not have known otherwise, but I also have have had the opportunity to serve, travel, and learn so many things that have helped me to figure out, bit by bit, what I really care about and why.  Bonner has enabled me to build on each and every experience and put them all together in a substantial way.  It has helped me make connections with my academic interests as a Poverty and Women’s Studies double minor, utilize my Spanish skills, attend eye-opening conferences, and create my own summer abroad service experience–all of which have somehow impacted where I want to go from here. 

As I get closer and closer to finishing my Bonner hours and completing my last year of college, I want to leave all of you with a challenge.  Make Bonner something more than just hours you tediously log into BWBRS.  Challenge yourself to find something that excites you or makes you angry or makes you want to change something for the better.  Even when it seems like the work you’re doing in Lexington could never possibly relate to what you really want to do with your life or career, take a step back.  I never would have guessed two years ago that I would end up wanting to pursue a career in the international public health field, but gradually I have somehow been able to piece together all of my experiences and academic interests into career possibilities that I am truly passionate about.  Bonner is one piece of the puzzle that can help you do that, and I challenge all of you to make the most of it!  And, of course, don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it :)

Posted by: alexandrakfernandez | November 7, 2010

Bonner Leader Finds A Home

by Alex Fernandez

Being a Bonner has been a really fantastic experience for me.  It has given me the opportunity to do so many things and meet incredible people that I ordinarily wouldn’t have.  The real goal of being a Bonner is not to do menial work at many different locations though, but to find one or two placements where you can really make an impact.  It takes some Bonners longer than others to find their “home” but I think I have finally discovered the place I want to spend my time making a difference.  And oddly enough, that place is a barn.

Meet Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center.  The center is dedicated to giving disabled individuals an opportunity to shine and participate in something really exciting.  It is amazing what the center does; I can see the direct impact it has, enabling children and adults who need it the most.  Besides the awe-inspiring work that Hoofbeats does, the people who work, volunteer, and ride there are what keep me coming back for more.  Yesterday I helped with the end-of-the-season awards ceremony and potluck dinner (yum!) and I was so moved by how much love is present in all people involved with the center.  No matter if you are a parent of a rider, a young rider, a volunteer, or a horse, everyone really cares and supports one another.  Watching the slideshow of pictures from these past few months almost made me a little teary-eyed!  Everyone involved with Hoofbeats is truly part of a big family; a family I’m looking forward to spending more time with throughout my Bonner journey and beyond!

Volunteers at the Hoofbeats Halloween Carnival


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