Response Magazine

Sprucing up the city: Incoming freshmen join SPU tradition of serving Seattle

First-year students take a break during the 2017 CityQuest community service event.

On September 23, 431 Seattle Pacific students fanned out across Seattle and collectively provided more than 1,700 hours of work to serve the city.

The volunteer army — in neighborhoods as varied as Ballard, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and Magnolia — rolled up their sleeves and helped at 24 sites, including parks, schools, churches, and food banks.

Held annually during orientation, CityQuest helps new students engage the city of Seattle through community service. Organized by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development, the effort familiarizes students — many of whom are new to Seattle — with area nonprofits, who are invited to be host sites.

One such beneficiary is Rainier Valley’s Cheasty Greenspace, a 43-acre forest southeast of downtown Seattle.

SPU students have been assisting with restoration efforts there since 2007, tearing out Himalayan blackberry and English ivy, planting Pacific Northwest native plants and trees, removing garbage, and clearing and building trails.

Lake Burien Presbyterian Church, 15 miles south of Seattle, also utilized CityQuest participants this year.

Freshman Samantha Kreeger was part of a team that weeded the church’s property, removed invasive species, and cleaned classrooms.

“I had a really great time,” she says. “It taught me that even a little bit of help could make a huge difference in the community.

“Through CityQuest, I was able to strengthen my relationships with other students,” Kreeger says. “It definitely opened my eyes, and encouraged me to continue to volunteer during my four years at SPU.”

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