Eye On Education: Students ‘Working For Worcester’ To Improve Community

WORCESTER (CBS) – You know the saying: Don’t let school interfere with your education.

Some local college students have learned that helping the community beyond their campus has been the best education of all.

They’ve tackled building projects to improve school for younger children all by ‘Working For Worcester’.

Jeff Reppucci came to Worcester as a Holy Cross hockey player.

“I learned kind of from casual conversations, wait a minute, I’m living in the second biggest city in New England,” said Reppucci, “there’s got to be a lot more than this gated hill, and that certainly felt like a responsibility to get out there and get to know the city.”

Reppucci organized his fellow Crusaders, talked to local officials, school principals and businesses about what he needed.

“Next thing we knew we had a big vision to mobilize our teammates and our friends our dorm-mates. Let’s go and let’s build stuff and bring sports and recreation to these neighborhoods, to schools.” said Reppucci.

‘Working For Worcester’ was born. One-day projects built by volunteers throughout the city.

Playgrounds, replacing blacktops, rooms transformed from storage areas to creative learning spaces.

This is another project: A natural playground at a head start program.

So what started in a college dorm room five years ago now involves 5,000 volunteers who’ve worked on 100 projects and invested $1 million in the city of Worcester.

“We really rely on organizations like Working for Worcester and all their community partners to come together and fill the gap and they’ve done that just incredibly across the city,” said Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus.

City and business leaders are all in, like Steven Joseph from Unum, one of the first corporate donors.

“You get college kids involved, corporations, the community all working together one day to give back. It’s huge, it’s just tremendous,” said Joseph.

Joyful children from the small ones to the college kids have learned a lot.

“The whole experience has been so inspiring, I am so lucky to be a part of it, it’s really taught me that I can give back to my community in such amazing ways,” said Colleen Naber a junior at Holy Cross.

“College students so often might get lamented about not caring about the community, if you give college students a good idea, some support and contacts, beautiful things can happen,” said Bowen Lee a Holy Cross senior.

It’s easy to forget that there are ten colleges and universities in Worcester and students from Clark and WPI have joined the Holy Cross kids to work on building days.

For more information about how you can get involved just go to workingforworcester.com

More from Paula Ebben
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