Service Opportunities Through Student Employment

a young red-haired woman smiling near a blossoming tree
Katie Stonecipher (Class of 2019)

Since arriving at Rhodes College in fall 2015, Katie Stonecipher ’19 has spent 10 hours a week working at the Memphis nonprofit Carpenter Art Garden. Four days a week she heads over to the Binghampton neighborhood, five minutes away from campus, to tutor students and coordinate art projects. She works with students who live in the neighborhood and who attend either Lester Elementary or Cornerstone Prep. On Mondays and Wednesdays, she tutors about 20 students. On Tuesdays, she facilitates an art project for 80 students, and on Thursdays, she does small volunteer projects with the students.  

“If it’s a particular season, we will create holiday crafts,” she says. “Christmas we made gingerbread houses, and we did pumpkin carving during Halloween. On a regular day, it can be anything fun, like Pinterest crafts. For example, we made owls out of pine cones.”

Twice a year, the students hold a bazaar and sell their work. During the Christmas Bazaar, the students actually receive the profits they make from their crafts, while the profits from the other seasonal bazaar go back into Carpenter Art Garden. Stonecipher says the students were ecstatic about earning their own money at this past year’s Christmas Bazaar.

Stonecipher’s job is part of Rhodes’ Community Service Student Employment (CSSE) program, which falls under the umbrella of the college’s Bonner Center for Faith and Service. While many students put in their student employment hours on campus, CSSE allows student employment-eligible students to perform service work seven to 10 hours weekly at a Memphis nonprofit. During their first year in the program, students volunteer at schools and after-school programs. After that, they can work at other sites such as BRIDGES, Caritas Village, and CHOICES.

“I feel like a lot of people want to do service. A lot of people want to explore, especially at Rhodes, especially in Memphis, because there are so many options,” says Stonecipher. “But if they are already working on campus and going to school and involved in a club, it’s hard to find the time to do service. But now I can do service work as my student employment.”

Those interested in the CSSE program can contact coordinators Shannon Hoffman, hoffmans@rhodes.edu, or Jocelyn Labombarde, labjg@rhodes.edu.

By Kelsey Young ’16

Carpenter Art Garden