Volunteer group initiates improved community ties

GW students are attempting to reach out to Foggy Bottom residents through new initiatives to improve community interaction, student leaders said.

United Foggy Bottom, a community service project geared to help area senior citizens with everyday activities, was created last year by former Student Association President Carrie Potter and continues this year under the leadership of Jeff Marootian, SA vice president of Community Affairs.

The project consists of student volunteers who spend from a ” lending a hand to senior citizens. Volunteer duties include buying groceries for elderly men and women, moving furniture and spending quality time with the seniors.

“The United Foggy Bottom is a great resource and a great way for GW students to serve and give back to the community,” Marootian said. Centralized around the Saint Mary’s Court area by New Hall, United Foggy Bottom focuses on low-income senior housing developments.

The program, which drew between 10 and 15 volunteers last year, has nearly doubled its student participation this year, Marootian said.

“Being involved (in United Foggy Bottom) is extremely valuable, especially for college students,” he said. “The experience is incredibly rewarding.”

As the program gains more recognition through advertisements in the Foggy Bottom News and posters, Foggy Bottom seniors have employed the program more. Confidentiality is an integral part of the program, and senior citizens’ names are not released to anyone except the volunteer who is working directly with the senior.

Sophomore Katie Orin, who began volunteering in the middle of last semester, buys groceries for an elderly woman once a week. She said she has developed a good relationship with the resident and understands the importance of United Foggy Bottom.

“If it’s important for GW students to be connected to the community, which I believe it is, then I think it’s also important to show we care for the many senior citizens in the area,” Orin said.

United Foggy Bottom provides other services as well. The annual Foggy Bottom Cleanup, in which GW students pick up trash around campus and Foggy Bottom, is a popular event, Marootian said.

“However, helping senior citizens is our main concern, and any way we can spread that message is great,” Marootian said. “These relationships with the senior citizens are enriching and reciprocal – without realizing, you develop real relationships with these people.”

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