Withrow Seniors Participate in a Day of Service

From “Hyde Park Living”, January 2015, Vol. 34, No. 1  Hyde Park Living Magazine

Recently more than 170 seniors from Withrow University High School experienced the first of what Cecelia Schroer hopes to be an annual service day. Schroer, Withrow Health teacher and Community Service advisor, said, “I want kids to realize giving to others comes from the heart, and it can be a rewarding experience.”

The experience opened a lot of eyes and even some doors for the group who volunteered with eight different organizations. “The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience is never take anything in America for granted: family, shelter, food…when you could have worse,” said Maliya Banks. “This activity greatly influenced my choice of career, which is helping others and giving back to those who lost something valuable.” Banks, along with 50 others, visited Matthew 25 Ministries in Blue Ash.2015 jan SeniorsService229x228

On the other side of the Metropolitan area, Keyonna Gephas and nine others volunteered at Tender Mercies where they played BINGO and interacted with the residents. “I’ve learned homeless people have opportunities to live in a home and learn how to better their lives,” Gephas said. Just down the street, a handful of students served over 400 meals to neighborhood residents at Our Daily Bread, a ministry of hospitality.

2015 jan SeniorsService228x231In addition, the students also serviced the Cincinnati Parks by volunteering at Mt. Airy Forest. The students re-mulched some picnic areas while learning about careers in the park system. “The most valuable lesson from this experience was learning and understanding the job that those people have. The experience could make me pick a career that involves patience and dedication,” said Leon Stewart.

Crayons to Computers, Mercy Franciscan, the Freestore Foodbank and Marjorie P. Lee, a retirement home in Hyde Park, also opened their doors to this day of service. According to Schroer, Marjorie P. Lee left a lasting impression on the 29 students who visited. They built relationships with the elderly by interviewing the residents for an English assignment. The students didn’t realize it would be a history lesson until one of the residents began talking about the Great Depression. They also made Fall table decorations and Thanksgiving Day cards with the residents. The students were so moved by their experience, they voluntarily wrote thank you cards and letters to the individuals they connected with. Two of the volunteers felt such a connection that they applied for jobs there.2015 jan SeniorsService141x200

Schroer began planning the day with students at the end of the last academic year and over the summer. “Many places were called, and nine said yes”, she said. The service day was supported through the Mayerson Foundation High School Service-Learning Program. Program coordinator, Clare Blankenmeyer helped the students plan and implement the day. Blankenmeyer rolled up her sleeves and helped the students at Mt. Airy Forest.

“Because of Withrow, the students had a unique opportunity to experience lessons coming to life: lessons of perseverance, presence with others, teamwork, getting outside your comfort zone, hard work and how giving of your time can make an impact – on the community and on oneself,” Blankenmeyer said.

In addition, Schroer owes gratitude to the teachers and administrators who helped with this program. “I couldn’t have pulled it off without the senior team,” Schroer said.

The plan is to make this a yearly event for seniors. Latricia Hibbit, Human Resources Manager at Tender Mercies said, “It’s great that Withrow students are expanding their horizons by exposing themselves to service experiences. This will help them become well-rounded individuals and prepare them for life after high school.”

When the students returned from their day of service, they reflected and debriefed. The experience was a positive one from many, including Christopher Williams who mixed paints at Mathew 25 Ministries. Williams wants to be a journalist. This experience has opened his eyes to humanitarian groups. “I learned that helping someone before you help yourself is important.”


  1. Seems like every time I read a story on this website I’m amazed by the great programs that Withrow Students are participating in. It’s
    not just learing in the classroom, it’s life learing as well. Thanks to the Withrow Administrators who had the vision to put this together,
    and to the students. Great idea.