Students serve their community at Day of Service in downtown Phoenix

student volunteers harvesting vegetables in a garden

Students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered at the Human Services Campus in central Phoenix, Nov. 15, for a Day of Service, organized by Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs.

It is the second time that the daylong event has been held at the campus. Last year, the group helped in a number of areas on the 12-acre campus – from general cleanup and organizing, to working in the community garden.

David Bridge, managing director of the campus, notes that volunteer efforts at last year’s inaugural event made the pilot of the Brian Garcia Welcome Center possible – and since then, more than 5,000 people have come through the welcome center and been assessed and directed to needed resources.

“This event brings together students, faculty and staff for a special, invigorated recognition of the work that is being done on the Human Service Campus, and also showcases opportunities and needs for student volunteer service, applied research, student internships and many other forms of college support throughout the entire year,” says Dale Larsen, director of community relations for the College of Public Programs.

A vision to end homelessness

The Human Services Campus is a unique collaboration of over a dozen service agencies and community partners. Each day, clients coming to the center find shelter, medical, employment and housing resources. The campus is also home to a community garden, which provides over 2,000 pounds of food and valuable training to clients on the campus.

Key government and nonprofit partners include Maricopa County, St. Vincent de Paul, TERROS Safe Haven, Central Arizona Shelter Services, the Lodestar Day Resource Center and St. Joseph the Worker.

Bridge noted that the campus is working with its partners to implement evidence-based best practices, including collaboration and housing solutions that make it possible to “end homelessness in our community.” Phoenix has already demonstrated the effectiveness of these strategies by becoming the first city in America to end chronic homelessness for veterans. Bridge was excited to have ASU be a part of these community efforts.

“The solutions are there,” says David Smith, COO, St. Vincent de Paul. He told students that they “are the cusp generation to take knowledge gained of homelessness and recidivism, and actually solve them.”

Embracing the value of public service

Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs, says that the work during Day of Service touches on every aspect of the college.

“The campus connects the substance of our programs – social work, criminology, nonprofit management, public administration – to the actual challenges and solutions in our community,” he says.

“No matter what you are studying, this is an opportunity to apply those lessons to real life,” he told students at the event. “Your work contributes to the success of the campus and has an impact on the lives of the people here.”

This year, the event was planned by students in a PRM 486 class taught by college events manager, Michelle Oldfield.

Michelle Green, a general studies student in the School of Letters and Sciences, said, “Not only did I get to participate as a volunteer, but I got to assist in planning this Day of Service that reached so many people.

“The Day of Service is an awesome opportunity for college students to get out into their community and really give back. I believe events like this are extremely beneficial; they help those less fortunate, and allow for students to get out of their comfort zone and gain a sense of purpose,” she said.

“I've been a part of a few ASU Day of Service events in Tempe before, but this was my first time doing one based out of the Downtown Phoenix campus,” says Ellyse Crow, a management and business communication major in the W. P. Carey School of Business. “It was unique because the location that we were serving was so close to campus, and the facilities serve a population that I see regularly when I'm downtown. So it was cool to know who I was helping.

“I want to work in university administration one day,” Crow explains. “Sharing with others the importance of giving back to your community is an important life lesson, and one that is especially powerful in college. University students have so much influence that is never realized. I think being active in the community and opportunities like this bring some of that out.”

To learn more about the Human Services Campus, visit