Elyssa Loughlin ♦ Editor
Explorientation welcomed the Class of 2022 to campus with a bang this year, but programming didn’t slow down after Friday. Opening weekend offered a new event for students looking to get involved with service right away. On Saturday, August 25, the President’s Office sponsored a service opportunity in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. This day of service is the first in what La Salle hopes will be a long relationship with the Parks Department.
The La Salle community is rather familiar with beautification projects. Throughout the school year, organizations will sponsor trash bashes where students meet to clean up trash and debris in the community. But the Wister Woods clean-up tasked volunteers with a completely new set of responsibilities. In addition to cleaning up non-organic waste, Esmeralda Hajdinaj of the Stewardship Division of the Parks and Recreation Department tasked La Salle’s students with “organic and leaf debris clean up, weeding and the removal of invasive plant species.”
The clean-up was organized by Brandon Vaughan from the University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. Vaughan has been working to foster a stronger relationship between La Salle and its neighbors for some time, and he hopes that this event will help to strengthen the connection between La Salle and the surrounding community. “We have worked with the Parks Department in the past and want to make sure that the outside of our campus looks just as beautiful as the inside,” Vaughan says. This clean-up is only one of Vaughan’s ideas to better incorporate La Salle into the surrounding community. Vaughan is also looking to work with city council representatives to sponsor events for the community on La Salle’s campus. But for now, he hopes that by beautifying the perimeter of campus, La Salle can show that we care just as much about our surrounding community and foster a greater relationship that falls in line with Lasallian values.
At 10 a.m on the morning of the clean-up, volunteers met at the bottom of 20th Street to start the day. Freshmen, student athletes and upperclassmen alike all came out to support the cause and begin the multi-step process of beautifying Wister Woods. Senior Nutrition major Rachael Smith gushed about the amazing team work she witnessed that morning “[the clean-up]was a great success for La Salle and the Philly Parks department! Tons of student athletes, freshmen, and other La Salle students gathered to clear away invasive plants and branches to showcase the beautiful statue on Belfield Ave.”
This new unique service opportunity attracted many different students with different passions and interests. One of the students drawn to the clean-up was senior biology major Jimmy Austin who said that the clean-up “was a great opportunity to do service for the local community while also helping to improve the environment. It was awesome working with Philadelphia Parks and Rec and I look forward to working with them at more clean ups in the future.”
“The support and hard work that the La Salle students demonstrated at the Wister Woods clean-up was nothing short of extraordinary,” Assistant Director for Greek Life and New Student Programs Andrea Naughton says, “I am very glad that we are now able to introduce new students to the Lasallian values so early and look forward to continuing to offer such events during Explorientation in the future.”