It’s 1 p.m. on Saturday. I’ve already been awake for six hours, and I’m covered from head to toe in paint. Literally. I look like I stepped out of a Dayglow video. But I didn’t spend my morning raging at a wild paint party. I was doing community service for Quinnipiac University’s Big Event.
Getting out of bed at 7 a.m. was no easy task, coming from a girl who doesn’t take classes that start before 12:30 p.m. Thankfully Vin Bond’s deejaying in the Rec. Center was enough to pump me up (although I wouldn’t have complained if he played “Call Me Maybe” a few more times).
After the opening ceremony, the teams were sent off to their service sites. My team, a mix of Pi Phis and Pi Kapps, was sent to The Children’s Center of Hamden along with three other teams.
When we got there, the teams were told they would be split into three locations: gardening, weeding and painting. Thinking of my allergies coupled with my immense fear of bees, I immediately volunteered my team for painting.
Back to getting covered in paint. A facilities worker for the center gave us brushes and blood-red paint to use while painting what looked like a giant metal wall. I don’t know which was more fun: getting covered in the red paint or the look on people’s faces when they saw the paint on my face and thought I was bleeding.
To say my team knew its way around some paintbrushes and a can of paint is an understatement. We had the whole thing painted in an hour, and one of us must be related to Picasso because our work was flawless.
By the time we were finishing up, the kids who live at the center started making their way outside. A few smiled, some even thanked us. You could tell they appreciated anything we did, no matter how small.
After putting the finishing touches on the second coat of paint, we headed over to one of the groups gardening. They had a bench that needed a second coat of paint, and being expert painters and all, we gladly volunteered.
While painting, a few of my teammates and I started talking to Diane Surprenant, director of personnel and development for The Children’s Center of Hamden. She was probably one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with and she dedicated the past 16 years to the center. She told us how the children’s ages ranged from 5 to 20. There are live-in programs and extended day care programs. Some of the children are there for court-ordered substance abuse, some for behavioral issues and most of them are heavily medicated.
These kids have more to deal with every day than I do in a semester. I’m glad we could give back to them, even if it was just with a few coats of paint.
The Big Event is something everyone should participate in at least once while at Quinnipiac, if not every year. Sometimes we take our gorgeous, country club-like school for granted, and participating in the Big Event is an opportunity to stop and think about what lays outside the Quinnipiac bubble. It’s one small way to give back to the community that we live in for the majority of the year.
While it’s a safe bet that my paint-covered yoga pants are ruined and despite the fact that I had to cut some of the paint out of my still-knotted hair, I wouldn’t change anything about my experience.