Along with routine labor and education projects in our host community, West Virginia volunteers occasionally have the opportunity to contribute to local celebrations and special events. For the first time that Global Volunteers’ partner, SALS, participated in Bridge Day – West Virginia’s largest single-day festival, and one of the largest extreme sports events in the world – our team was asked to help prepare two informational booths for them. Held in and around Fayetteville at the New River Gorge Bridge, the event is coordinated by the New River Gorge Bridge Day Commission, and is sponsored by area businesses. The volunteers created promotional materials, cooked food, and staffed the booths to elevate the visibility of SALS’ (Southern Appalachian Labor School) mission. One West Virginia volunteer, Julie, describes how their efforts were solicited:
Our day unfolded mostly as expected. Bruce took the reins re-purposing the existing bookcase with Vivian. CJ continued her work on the key chains. Julie began laying out and prepping the posters. Two lines into handwriting however she had spelled SAS instead of SALS. Artie appeared at the door to check in and suggested he could print out the SALS logo. Problem solved!
When the team broke for lunch, some took a short walk to recharge. We returned to finish up posters and erect the canopy, wondering how the supplies team was doing. At 3:30, the onsite team went out to play basketball, UNO, swings, and hide-and-seek with the kids. Vivian informed us that the bookcase was also set up – success!
“The SALS team was so hospitable and friendly, especially Brenda. The service experience helped me better understand West Virginia, the culture and the importance of the community. It was such a pleasure spending a week with them.”– Julie
When the supplies team returned with heaps of groceries, they described their shopping trip to SAM’s Club like a day-long tour of Raleigh County, where Beckley is situated. Speaking of which, I just learned that Beckley was named after John James Beckley – the first Librarian of Congress.
Through our project with SALS, our team became a tight knot. The group of volunteers shared the mission to support SALS at their first attempt to organize Bridge Day. The SALS team was so hospitable and friendly. It was such a pleasure spending a week with them, especially Brenda. The service experience helped me better understand West Virginia, the culture and the importance of the community.