March 31, 2016
When students arrived at Ruby Labega Primary School on Monday, March 21, 2016, their school looked completely different. New sidewalks, fences, gardens, and a freshly painted basketball court adorned the school’s grounds after a weekend clean-up effort by more than 65 American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) faculty and staff members, and their families.
The volunteer effort is part of AUC’s commitment to community service, which includes student-driven Community Action Days, local health fairs, the annual Lions Fair, and screening events among others. Saturday’s project signified one of the first faculty and staff volunteer events—an initiative the school hopes to continue annually.
AUC selected Ruby Labega after touring the island to find schools in need of repairs. Gerard Lake, AUC’s safety and security manager, helped to select the school after talking with the principal, Ms. Jeffers. She described neglected recreational spaces, much-needed grounds maintenance, and a broken fence from which children were sneaking away from school premises.
What started as a small service project of seven quickly grew and on Saturday, March 19, 2016, more than five dozen AUC volunteers showed up. Participants, including Ruby Labega’s assistant principal, Ms. Augustina, built a new pathway, planted a garden, installed a new mesh fence, repainted the basketball court, raked leaves and even trimmed the grass.
“Working alongside colleagues and for such an important cause was a fulfilling experience,” said Golden Jackson, PhD, assistant dean for service learning and community affairs at AUC. “The result was a beautiful addition to the school that will benefit students for quite some time.”
Officials from AUC are looking to expand collaborations like the one with Ruby Labega in the future.