Community Involvement class changes life of Brevard resident
Have you ever enrolled in a class that changed the course of your life? Community Involvement did that to me.
A few years after receiving my bachelor’s degree, I decided to go back to school. In 2011, I was working toward my Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and Associate of Arts degree at Eastern Florida State College, formerly Brevard Community College. I needed a Social Science class and Community Involvement, described as a course that “provides the student with a unique opportunity to examine community service and citizenship in many different facets of our diverse community through both practice and critical reflection,” sounded appealing.
The course requires a minimum of 32 hours of service to the community and includes 24 hours of seminars throughout the semester with a faculty instructor. Since I was volunteering at my daughter’s pre-school, reaching the number of hours required to complete the course would not be a problem.
Besides giving students the experience of servicing the community in some capacity, the core message of the course was to be the change where we identified change was needed.
My instructor was Erin Baird-Jack, a living example of compassion and passion for community service. Baird-Jack is an inspiration and the message of making a difference wherever we go got engraved in my heart.
While taking the class, I took my then 6-year-old daughter Melissa on a landfill tour to answer her questions about what happened to garbage collected by garbage trucks. During that tour, I learned that Brevard’s recycling rate was only 30 percent.
My community engagement gene immediately kicked in and I decided to do something about that. “Perhaps if people had access to more information and resources, they would know what to do and how important it is to recycle,” I thought. My life was about to change and a new journey about to start.
I created a blog and a Facebook page and named them Recycle, Brevard! to represent the call to action that it meant to be. And just like that Recycle Brevard was born.
Recycle Brevard started as online resources and evolved to be an independent nonprofit organization 100 percent run by volunteers, 100 percent funded by donations and mission-related services we offer such as recycling for events. After a few years operating from home, in 2017 we opened our facility in Rockledge. From volunteering around the community and sharing useful information online, I became the president of an organization that I wholeheartedly believe in.
Once a recognized student for the number of hours put toward community projects, in May 2019 I was back at the Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) recognition ceremony to celebrate other students’ achievements in the area of service-learning. This time, I was representing Recycle Brevard, an EFSC community partner honored for being listed this fall on EFSC’s Link Directory, a directory of volunteer and service-learning opportunities for EFSC students.
During the academic year of 2018-2019, 20 Community Involvement courses were offered at EFSC throughout its four campuses, with a total of 223 students immersing themselves in the true lessons the course teaches us: be an active member of our community.
Congratulations, graduates. Those numbers make me wonder how many of you will listen and embrace what the community calls for. Community involvement is a commitment that the class unpacks. Your experience during the class might present you with challenges. Be the change.
Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@RecycleBrevard.org.