With a motto of “Pro Humanitate,” it’s no secret that Wake Forest students are passionate about serving others.
On Saturday, April 9, hundreds of students came together to serve in the community as a part of Pro Humanitate Day.
For the fourth year in a row, students have dedicated a day to supporting Winston-Salem through forming teams and serving throughout the community. This year, over 250 students participated in the event.
An addition to this year’s event was that hundreds of Wake Forest alumni throughout the country also engaged in service in their respective students. With over 100 alumni serving in Winston-Salem alone, students had the opportunity to serve alongside alumni.
Many students said they enjoyed taking a day to experience their role in the community at-large.
“It was a great opportunity to put ‘Pro Humanitate’ into practice not only in the classroom but also through service,” said freshman student Karen Gusmer. “I think it was important because I think it enhanced both the humanity of the people we served and also our own humanity.”
Riley Mistrot, a freshman student, said that she “think[s] Pro Humanitate Day is a great opportunity for students to step outside the privileged environment of Wake Forest and share their talent and resources for the betterment of the community. As a team leader, I worked with other students and alumni to help Second Harvest Food Bank prepare for its annual Empty Bowls event. PHD strengthens the bond between current students and alumni, as well as the bond between Wake Forest and the communities in which its alumni choose to serve.”
The concept of the event is to expose students to different service opportunities in the region without the long-term commitment of becoming a volunteer. The hope is that students will continue their service after their participation.
The service activities surrounded six areas: the environment, youth services, homelessness, hunger, animals and elderly care. Pro Humanitate Day has partnered with different organizations in the Winston-Salem area, including Habitat for Humanity, Seku, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, Potter’s House and the Diaper Bank.
Students served in groups of five, led by a student leader. The student leaders attended a training session to develop skills and information to encourage participants to reflect on the importance of community service.
Kathryn Webster served as the chair of the Pro Humanitate Day for the second year in a row.
“I want students to take away the understanding of our privilege in the greater community,” Webster said. “On campus, we are surrounded by the Wake Forest bubble and many do not venture out into the community. We need to learn to empathize, push out of our comfort zone and learn by experience.”
The event started bright and early at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with volunteers taking a morning shift of service. Participants from the morning and afternoon shifts came together for lunch in Brendle Hall, where students and faculty were able to listen to the keynote address of the event.
Lauren Bush-Lauren is the CEO of FEED, a national non-profit that focuses on food insecurity and conscious consumerism.
Bush-Lauren discussed her experiences traveling with the United Nations Food Programme and how it inspired her to combine her passions for fashion design and fighting hunger through creating a line of conscious consumer products. Each of FEED’s products note how many meals will be served to the hungry directly due to that individual purchase.
Following the talk, students left to serve in the afternoon shift in locations throughout the Winston-Salem area. Although it is not a method of regularly involving oneself in service, Pro Humanitate Day is a great opportunity for anyone who is wishing to engage in the community and try out different forms of service.
“Being able to see the impact that you are having on the Winston-Salem community and knowing that you are doing it with fellow students, faculty and alumni from the school really sends a powerful message about Wake Forest as a whole,” said sophomore Emily Adams.
“You could tell a lot of people really care about serving the community and the food bank where I volunteered was so excited to have us there.”