Whitworth Serves in California | Patty (Graham) Sherve, ’84

Posted by - - Giving Stories, Whitworth Serves

“I serve because I know every little bit helps,” says Patty (Graham) Sherve, ’84. “Communities grow stronger, more relational and more united as we work together and build bonds through collective events.”

Patty had been assigned to teach a work skills class for a life skills program serving adults with disabilities (AWD) through the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Pleasant Hill, Calif. The program didn’t offer a licensed job coaching program, so Patty reformatted it to offer a volunteer skills to her AWD clients.

“Initially, my clients (24 to 75 years old) didn’t feel they had any skills to offer,” she said. “They didn’t know where they might be interested in serving and they were on limited budgets. I began exploring a local collective volunteer website with them and we targeted local agencies. We invited a coordinator from a local agency that fed the hungry, and she shared how they could get involved in their own free time. We hosted a food drive for our campus and delivered 20 bags of food to the agency. Every client brought in at least one item from their pantry and all felt engaged. One client volunteered over a holiday serving meals with her family.”

Patty continued searching for new opportunities and found a second project for the group to host a book drive for an organization that gives books to underprivileged school-aged children. She and her clients collected 3 bags of books. Their next project was assisting with landscape clean-up at a historical site, followed by participating in the town’s “Eggstravaganza,” where they counted and filled 5,000 plastic eggs, and finally, a toiletries collection drive for a local church’s outreach program. “My clients now have the volunteering bug! They know they can be valued contributors within their community. They are no longer timid about ideas and are eager to find new ways to volunteer. I saw them grow in confidence and build community through this effort. It was wonderful for me to get out and volunteer once again, too!”

Have you volunteered recently? We want to hear about it and include it in the Whitworth Serves campaign. Visit the Whitworth Serves page to learn more and log your hours.