Walla Walla colleges partner for Tri-College Community Day

Sebastian Squire, News Reporter

With nearly two dozen activities, Tri-College Community Day aims to involve students at all three Walla Walla colleges in altruistic activities to benefit the greater Walla Walla Valley.

Walla Walla is home to three colleges: Walla Walla University, Walla Walla Community College and Whitman College. All three of these schools are involved in the planning and execution of Tri-College Community Day. The event is slated to occur April 16, 2023, with registration occurring at the Fort Walla Walla Park.

In addition to the three colleges, the Blue Zones Project was a member of the planning committee. 

Director for Community Engagement at the Career and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) Abby Juhasz is also a member of the planning committee and has served on the committee for nearly 11 years.

The Tri-College Community Day event pre-dates the formation of the CCEC,” Juhasz said in an email to The Wire. “The first time this event was planned was in 2008, and [it] was named the Tri-College Spring Service Day.

Community Projects Program Leader at the CCEC and senior Devon Player was a program leader at last year’s Tri-College Community Day and is a member of the planning committee for the event this year. According to Player, the event hosts 20 different community organizations, and at least 280 volunteers are required to support all of the projects planned for the day, although more are welcome.

My favorite events to help coordinate are ones like this where you are really able to see how interconnected and supportive this community is of one another. [It] often inspires even more collaboration and problem-solving moving forward,” Player said. 

Highlighting a spring planting, a care package project and a mural re-painting activity, Player explained how the range of projects caters to the wide variety of different student skills and interests.

I would encourage folks to take a look at all of the available projects because there really seems to be something for everyone. You can tailor your Tri-College Community Day experience to your interests and passions, or [you can] get out of your comfort zone and try something completely new,” Player said.

Juhasz also echoed the importance of building connections within the greater Walla Walla community.

“It is our hope that [Tri-College] Community Day will offer chances to celebrate our togetherness and collective strength as a community and create meaningful connections: connections among students from different schools, connections among students and community members and connections among ideas, talents and academic exploration,” Juhasz said. “It is our hope that students will learn something new about Walla Walla, form new connections and take time to consider their place in the community and how they can be involved.”

Associate Director of the Center for Humanitarian Engagement at Walla Walla University Jonathan Simons views collaboration between the three colleges as “incredibly important.”

We have a unique opportunity in our community to give students a college experience that transcends the borders of their institution. The more that they get the opportunity to spend time with other students around the community, learning from one another and serving together, the more well-rounded their college experience will be,” Simons said in an email to The Wire

Juhasz explained that transportation will be provided from Reid Campus Center on the morning of the event.

Simons, Juhasz and Player all mentioned the difficulties of planning such a complex event with multiple institutions and stakeholders.

I think the biggest challenge we encounter with the planning of this event is all of the coordination that must happen between the three colleges, all of the participating organizations and all of our amazing volunteers,” Player said. “That said, I am constantly impressed by the communication and collaboration that is constantly occurring between all of these groups. At this point in the planning process, our main goal is to recruit as many volunteers as we can.”

Simons shared similar planning-related challenges.

As with any event like this, there are a lot of moving pieces to plan for. We always challenge ourselves to make the biggest impact that we can in a small amount of time while making sure that participants have a good experience. Thankfully, we have an amazing group of people from all three colleges,” Simons said.

Player is looking forward to making connections between local organizations and the Walla Walla community at large. 

I still remember how much fun I had with the group of volunteers I was with last year, and I have a feeling I will have just as much — if not more — fun this year,” Player said.