“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

The words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have inspired generations to serve their communities in his honor. Pierpont Community & Technical College took those words to heart on Monday as it held its first Day of Service.  

“Many faculty and staff asked how they could give back,” said Dr. Milan Hayward, president of Pierpont Community & Technical College. “This sparked the idea of a new initiative called Pierpont Serves. Today’s Day of Service is the first of many projects we will undertake throughout the year.”

To jumpstart the Day of Service, Pierpont held a commemoration at its Advanced Technology Center. Led by a speech from James Griffin, chair of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival, in which he referenced the Dr. King quote, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Today, I want to challenge you. This is your season. It is the time to do what is right. As we look at the many things that face our country today, I think we can all agree that this is the season to do the right thing.”

As the commemoration continued, Griffin touched on Pierpont meeting its mission. As the only community and technical college in North Central West Virginia, Pierpont is responsible for fully engaging everyone within the community.

“The mission of Pierpont is to provide accessible, responsive, comprehensive education that works, but I am sure Dr. King would say to us, ‘we must make sure that all in our society has an opportunity to this comprehensive education,’” said Griffin. “We must ensure the students living in Monongah have the same opportunities as those living in Bridgeport. Students living on Holbert Avenue have the same opportunity as those on Southgate Drive.”

Upon conclusion of the commemoration, Pierpont employees, students, and area volunteers began the day’s projects. Throughout the community, including at the Union Mission in Fairmont, the Harrison County Animal Shelter, and a blood drive hosted by Vitalant.

“Our role as this community’s college is to put the community at the heart of everything we do,” said Hayward. “Growing North Central West Virginia with not only education, but through acts of service will bring a brighter future to all.”

Union Mission

The Union Mission, located in downtown Fairmont, serves Marion County to reach the least, the last, and the lost through ministry, shelter, and meals. 

“The Mission is here to help the community and those who are broken and lost, so by giving back to the Mission and helping to support the Mission, whether it be voluntarily or monetarily, you’re helping your community,” said Jacci Maier, development director of the Union Mission.

Pierpont gave back by painting rooms and hallways to help the Mission with its renovation project. With more than ten individuals volunteering, a lot of the spaces were getting a fresh coat of paint.

All the volunteers were thrilled to be giving back, and when asked why they chose to serve with the Union Mission, the consensus was that the organization had done great work and deserved some return care.

“The Union Mission has been a critical institution in Fairmont,” said David Beighley, dean of the School of General Education and Professional Studies at Pierpont. “For all their great work, I thought it was important to give back.”

The Mission felt Pierpont’s efforts, and Maier hopes it will encourage others to do the same.

“With Pierpont’s volunteerism, it’s important because a lot of people think we just want donations. No, we want volunteers. It’s about a community effort, and by Pierpont stepping up and volunteering their time, they’re setting a precedent for other schools, other organizations, and churches to do more of the same.”

Harrison Animal Shelter

The Harrison County Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter, takes in strays, cares for, and rehabilitates them with veterinary services, including vaccinations, to prepare them for public adoption.

Pierpont gave back to the organization by cleaning and caring for the animals awaiting adoption. Some of the tasks included cleaning crates, mopping floors, and, of course, giving lots of cuddles.

“As a little girl, I visited the animal shelter a lot,” said Amanda Hawkinberry, executive assistant to the president. “It was a big part of our family growing up, so we wanted to give back.”

Hawkinberry and her team were happy to be giving back and think it is what being a community college is all about. 

“I am happy we are getting back to our roots and giving back to the community,” said Hawkinberry. “Community is in our name, and it’s good to be out in the community and helping out.”

Vitalant Blood Drive

Pierpont’s Day of Services concluded with the Vitalant Blood Drive. Held at Pierpont’s Advanced Technology Center, the drive saw several individuals stop in and donate blood.

The blood drive was held to combat the blood shortage seen in hospitals, where people are in dire need of blood transfusions every day. Giving back at the drive could provide a new life for a patient.

“I wanted to volunteer [at the blood drive] because I work in the hospital system,” said Wendy Singleton, assistant professor and program coordinator of Pierpont’s Respiratory Care program. “I see how important it is for people to give back.”

During the blood drive, volunteers sat with donors and handed out snacks and drinks to ensure they felt okay after donating.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Pierpont’s Day of Service was the first of many projects scheduled in 2024 as the Pierpont Serves initiative grows. On February 2, Pierpont will be holding another Day of Service with new projects and organizations benefitting.

“We need to be more outward-focused,” said Hayward. “[Pierpont] offers more than just classes. We are a developer of individuals and families within the community.”

Pierpont hopes that this Day of Service reminds everyone to give back to their community. During the commemoration, James Griffin said it best:

“Dr. King tells us there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe nor political or popular. But we must do it because our conscience tells us it is the right thing to do.”

To view all the pictures from the day’s events, CLICK HERE.