Partnering with the community

Story by Amelia Kimball, Freelancer

This Friday, UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Beginnings and Early Childhood Literacy Intervention Program will celebrate Global Youth Service Day. The groups will work with students from area grade schools, middle schools and high schools and setting up sites around Eau Claire.

More than 200 people, including students, volunteers and community members, are currently involved in Youth Service Day, according to a university news release.

The purpose of the day is to stimulate the growth of service work among the young, the release said.

Donna Lehmkuhl, program director of ECLIPSE, explained that Eau Claire student ECLIPSE members will be working with non-profit organizations in the community who may need assistance with physical labor.

ECLIPSE member Caitlyn Waegener said she will be at the YMCA helping to set up for the Eau Claire Marathon.

“Seeing the progress the children go through … working with the families and seeing how appreciative they are to see the growth,” she said. “You can see the difference
it makes.”

A total of 20 sites around Eau Claire are designated for Global Youth Service Day, according to the news release.

Waegener said her experiences have taught her how to communicate with children, interact and make connections.

Kristi Herbenson, Blugold Beginnings’ high school coordinator, explained that Blugold Beginnings works with children in grades five through twelve in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Altoona, with a focus on minorities, low income families, and first generation students.

She said that this Youth Service Day will mark the 10th year for Eau Claire and is a great opportunity to help disadvantaged children imagine themselves coming to college in
the future.

“The results have been positive … students become engaged in their community and realize the senses of need there,” she said. “ Eyes are opened to the many service learning
opportunities available.”