Freshmen loaners get ready to spruce up town once again

SERVICE -- Once again, Pacific University freshmen plan to use a workday to clean up the community, get connected
by: Nancy Townsley, Pacific University junior Emily Hobizal is coordinating 2006-07 freshmen orientation and organizing this month’s “Sprucing Up the Grove” effort.

When Emily Hobizal was a student at Lincoln High School in Portland, she was the first one to volunteer for campus clean-ups or pitch in at car washes.

She got involved in student government, serving as class representative her sophomore year. She volunteered with the Special Olympics and was a member of the swim team before graduating in 2004.

Now, the 20-year-old Pacific University junior has taken on a community service project of a different kind - helping to connect incoming freshmen to Forest Grove.

As freshman orientation coordinator, Hobizal is organizing the 2006 emanation of 'Sprucing Up the Grove,' a workday for incoming Pacific students that helps them connect to the wider community.

'We pick up trash on the roads, clean up peoples' yards and volunteer at the food bank,' said Hobizal, who is majoring in exercise science.

A flier explaining the program was mailed out with the City of Forest Grove's July utility bill, and Hobizal continues to scout for worthy projects that can be completed within a four-hour time frame on the designated spruce-up day later this month.

She's seeking projects that are close to the university, benefit a group of individual who can't perform the task themselves and 'encourage community service collaboration between students and community members.'

Hobizal believes there's good reason for the event, scheduled for Aug. 26, to be a requirement for new Boxers. As part of freshmen orientation, which begins Aug. 23, the service project will help form the first impression 370 or so freshmen will have of their new campus.

'It's a pretty cool thing,' said Hobizal. '(Pacific President) Phil Creighton will be speaking and kicking off the event.'

Forest Grove Mayor Richard Kidd is also expected to say a few words before groups of students are turned loose on a variety of jobs, ranging from painting houses to battling blackberry vines.

About 70 of the school's fall athletes will focus on the downtown area, pressure washing sidewalks, washing windows and weeding.

They'll work from 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m. and look forward to a celebration dinner at the University Center that evening.

'We have a good time,' Hobizal said.

For Ruby Margach, a 92-year-old resident of Jennings McCall Center, last year's spruce-up was a lifesaver.

'They helped me clean up my yard, and I have over an acre of land,' said Margach, whose family home sits at the corner of C Street and 21st Avenue. Students also cleaned up her weeds 'so they didn't go to seed,' Margach said.

'They were a great help - I really appreciated having them come out,' she noted.

In the fall of 2004, as a freshman herself, Hobizal washed windows and weeded garden beds at the home of an elderly couple.

The next fall, she signed up as an ambassador and led a group of students during the 2005 Sprucing Up the Grove.

'We went to a disabled lady's house and fixed up her yard,' Hobizal recalled. 'We cleaned up debris and took it to the dump. We spread bark dust and planted flowers.'

So far this year, scheduled projects include house painting, cleaning up the grounds at Forest Grove public schools, landscape clean-up at Jennings McCall Center and working at the historic A.T. Smith house, 'moving bushes and cleaning up,' said Hobizal.

'It's a great deal, because we supply all the labor,' she said. 'We're looking forward to it.'