Volunteering to serve the community is a cherished tradition for William Woods. But beyond the benefits such service extends to organizations and less fortunate individuals in our midst, one community service program has a more global outcome for students at The Woods.
Thanks to a unique program, there has been an avenue for William Woods students to travel the world at a more affordable rate with a travel stipend from university donors. Since 2014, WWU has offered a program called Project 123. In Project 123, students volunteer 123 hours of community service at local agencies for which they receive a travel stipend to reduce the cost of a Woods Around the World trip.
The program is a rare example of an initiative where everyone benefits, according to Director for Center of Ethics and Global Studies Travis Tamerius.
“We have been greatly helped by some generous donors, who are visionary and inspiring.” Tamerius said. “These special individuals have modeled for us that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive. And we think with Project 123, it is a win, win, win for everybody. The donors get the gift of investing directly in students and knowing that their support has allowed others to go. The local volunteer agency gives the benefit of thousands of hours of community service. Our students get the benefit of serving their local communities and also traveling the globe. We describe it as ‘serve the world, see the world.’”
William Woods students have now participated in Project 123 for five years, allowing many of them who otherwise may not have afforded trips around the globe to experience once-in-a-lifetime journeys. But the incredible overseas trips are only half of the experience, according to some WWU students who are Project 123 veterans.
For Leah Easley ’21, one of her volunteer projects was volunteering at a soup kitchen. One of the things Easley remembers is there being a deaf individual, and with one of the other Project 123 students being an ASL major, they were able to brighten that person’s day while making it easier for her to go through the food line.
“I enjoyed many of the projects I participated in for Project 123, but especially those where I met other students doing Project 123,” Easley said. “Every student should try to go on at least one Woods Around The World trip during their time at William Woods. Project 123 makes these trips attainable for any student willing to put in the hours.”
Another student that benefited from Project 123 is Daryl Parungao ’19. Her favorite volunteer experience with Project 123 was at the Root N Blues BBQ festival, which helped make it possible for her to go on the upcoming WATW trip to Japan this March. She got to experience live music while being able to help around the festival for volunteer hours, and was able to promote the arts for the betterment of the local community.
“[Project 123] helps to pay for our trip, but I also enjoy volunteering and helping people out in the community,” Parungao said. “Especially for a tight-knit town like Fulton, the people we’re helping are always friendly and great to get to know.”
As an undergraduate, Baylie Borman ‘18 volunteered over 500 hours. One of her volunteer projects included the Fulton Senior Center. She would help with serving food, cleaning, and having fun singing and dancing with the elderly. From her involvement with Project 123, Borman has now been inspired to
“I love interacting with the senior citizens because a lot of them know my parents and my grandparents and would tell me stories,” Borman said. “Thanks to Project 123 and Woods Around the World, I feel more confident navigating across the United States and airports. I’m so glad I have gotten the opportunity to travel to all of these destinations at such a young age.”
For more on Project 123 and the Woods Around The World program, please visit https://www.williamwoods.edu/student_experience/undergraduate_student_experience/multicultural_opportunities/woods_around_the_world.html