About 460 Tusculum College students could be found Thursday morning throughout the community landscaping, painting, promoting voter registration and helping others in many ways.
The students’ efforts were part of Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day, one of Tusculum College’s longest enduring traditions. Named for Tusculum’s first benefactor, Nettie Fowler McCormick, the day was initially observed on campus as a time in which students concentrated on cleaning their residence halls and campus. The observance continued to evolve and now centers on providing service in the community, an emphasis of Tusculum’s curriculum.
Freshman and transfer students participated in “Nettie Day,” as it is affectionately called on campus, as part of their Tusculum Experience course and were joined with a number of upperclassmen volunteering their time. The students worked at 22 different sites throughout Greene County as well as one in Washington County.
One group assisted Greene County Habitat for Humanity in preparing its new Habitat ReStore and office location for opening. The group of 31 students donated their time as “sweat equity” to one of the Habitat families. The group’s total of 62 hours will be counted towards the hours that a family is required to provide toward the construction of their home or other Habitat projects.
Another group of students could be found in downtown Greeneville promoting voter registration. While one small group of students set up a table in front of the Greene County Courthouse to offer voter registration information and forms, other groups walked through downtown handing out information. The project was undertaken by the Murdock Circle, a living learning community of freshmen.
The project for one class was cleaning New Hope Cemetery in preparation for its upcoming rededication ceremony. The cemetery, near the intersection of Old Shiloh Road and New Hope Road, is all that physically remains of a Presbyterian church started by former slaves following the Civil War and has been the focus of work by several classes of Tusculum students over the years. Another group helped reset tombstones and trim around markers at historic Old Harmony Cemetery in downtown Greeneville.
Students sent to Rural Resources completed a variety of tasks - cleaning and preparing its greenhouse for the next growing season, cleaning out and washing vehicles including the Mobile Farmers Market, building a new fence area for livestock and cleaning out brush near the animal pins.
Another group worked at the new Safe Harbor Home store to create artwork to be displayed in the store, which will support the newly formed non-profit organization that will serve victims of domestic violence.
Other work sites included the Child Advocacy Center, the Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, Doak Elementary School, Greene Valley Developmental Center, Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, Mustang Alley Horse Rescue and Plaza Towers.
One project kept students on campus. A rain garden was created at one of the residential houses on campus in conjunction with the Middle Nolachuckey Watershed Alliance, which funded its creation. The rain garden replaces a storm drain from the house and prevents erosion caused by storm water coming from the drain.
Other projects on campus included weeding and cleaning flower beds at the entrance of the Niswonger Commons and around the Charles Oliver Gray Complex. Students also helped create educational materials for programs at the Doak House Museum and weeded around the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library.
Nettie Day was coordinated by Tusculum’s Center for Civic Advancement with the Bonner Leaders student service organization providing assistance with logistics and the opening ceremony as well as volunteering at sites.
Students were sent out after the opening ceremony, which featured an address by the Honorable Marcia Parsons, U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. In recognition of U.S. Constitution Day on Sept. 17, Parsons discussed the formation of the Constitution, which required compromise to create what is the longest lasting document of its kind in the world.
As the preamble to the Constitution states, it was created by the people and “all of us in this room are the people,” Parsons said. “We must too pledge and work to protect and preserve the Constitution.”
Amber Sharp, president of the Bonner Leaders organization, also spoke during the ceremony, telling the students she had learned through her service experiences in college that while one individual cannot do everything, that individual can do something and that every act of kindness matters.
Laura Rees, vice president of the Bonner Leaders, recalled that her experience in her first Nettie Day helped her discover her passion, which led to a change of majors and career direction. Rees challenged the students to take the opportunity through their service projects to learn something new about themselves.
For more photos from “Nettie Day,” please visit Tusculum College’s Facebook page.