A Different Twist On Volunteering

Alex Barton, class of 2012 and 2013

27295_4256736490518_635335604_nEight young men and women have been living together in Cleveland working at different nonprofits across the city. This is not your typical (and outdated) philanthropic experience; think instead of a blend of monastic intent and urban immersion. The Trinity Urban Service Corps is the official name of an experience that has become less about “giving back” or “taking away,” and much more about living in true community within the great city of Cleveland.

Our work spans a diverse array of responses to views on the vitality of a city, from the local economy, to creating green space, to providing food, to abating environmental hazards. It is a perfect exposition on the dynamic nature of an urban space’s health—no one sector has the solution.

While much of the program was described as a time to discern our vocations or to be intentional about our lifestyles, something that became immediately apparent in this process was the importance of larger community. It is a city that has faced a plethora of economic challenges and political pitfalls. But, like any city there is still a great bar and restaurant scene, music venues, and theatres. Every city has attractions and that is usually all that anyone ever sees or knows about—for example, Cleveland equals the Browns, the Indians, 4th street, and the Cavs for many people. However, this program has made it possible to see the behind the scenes, and understand the reasons there are now committed elected officials, a booming entrepreneurial population, hundreds of committed nonprofits, and thousands of empowered, not to mention knowledgeable, people.

The real ebb and flow of a city is invisible in the cursory glance of its flashiest attractions. The intentionality of this program has pushed us as individuals and a group to learn more. Through exploration of the issues facing the urban core, and by forming relationships with empowered people committed to the health of the city, we have discovered that the more involved one is the more the city comes to life.

Learn More About the Program