It can be an eye-opening experience for Dragonfly students to help those in need during the winter season. On a recent December trip to Portland, students applied teamwork skills to contribute to service projects at local nonprofits. They naturally held a good perspective about giving back during the holidays and were eager to jump in and do the tough jobs. Upon leaving their respective work sites they could also observe the positive impact of the group’s accomplishments.
Throughout the course of this trip, Dragonfly’s hope is to instill in students a lifelong desire to contribute when and where they can in their own neighborhoods. While in Portland, students and staff split up into groups and volunteered with several nonprofits such as Janus Youth, the Sewallcrest Community Garden, Transition Projects, and a local building salvage center.
Some students also worked outdoors, volunteering with the Portland Park Service to remove invasive species from a forested hillside and fallen trees in an area that was flagged for tree planting. They also broke down a concrete staircase with shovels and transported the concrete in an assembly chain, which challenged the students’ physical and communication skills.
The week’s service work was complemented by relaxing at the houses, going to the movies, enjoying good meals, and shopping in the city. Trips to food carts and voodoo donuts were peppered into the volunteer hours as students participated in fun activities like go-carts, black-light mini golfing, shopping, seeing the Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo, exploring Powell’s Books, creating one of kind ceramic pieces, and seeing a performance of The Santa Land Diaries at Portland Center Stage. Some students also spent a day out in nature visiting Multnomah Falls and the surrounding wilderness areas.
One group of students shared that their favorite activity was shopping at Toys ‘R Us for a donation for Toys For Tots. Overall, the trip was great fun. New connections were made, friendships were strengthened, and memories were formed. The 2016 Dragonfly Portland Trip was a success. It provided students with the opportunity to give back and reflect on the importance of helping others during the holiday season; and set intention for personal hopes and goals for the upcoming new year.