Clad in jeans, a T-shirt and a facemask, CSU Channel Islands (CI) Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Gayle Hutchinson fired up her weed whacker.
Hutchinson then sheared off a stand of weeds next to the Prototypes rehabilitation center in Oxnard.
“I love physical labor. I love service,” Hutchinson said, pulling down her face mask. “I think it’s important to give back. We get busy in our lives, and myopic.”
Hutchinson was among about 30 volunteers—most of them CI students, faculty, staff and administration—who performed a variety of duties for Prototypes in Oxnard as part of the Martin Luther King Day of Service on Friday, Jan. 30.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the volunteers cleared brush; painted walls; cleaned the playground; held an arts and crafts workshop for the kids and a workshop giving tips for women on how to enroll in college.
Prototypes is a residential treatment center that helps women get clean and sober while also accommodating their children.
“This program allows you to be with your kid while working on your own recovery,” said Crystal Beeson, 29, who held a seven-month old baby girl in a Minnie Mouse hoodie fitted with ears. “This program teaches you balance. This is a lifetime disease.”
Beeson has been clean and sober for 100 days, and plans to attend 12-step meetings when she leaves Prototypes so she can stay on the right path for herself and her daughter.
Outside the multi-storied 1898 building that houses Prototypes, CI communication major Dedreiana Elliott, 21, helped sort out working from non-working donated bicycles.
Elliott said she read about the volunteer opportunity on the CI website, and signed up.
“I think one of these service opportunities may lead me to the career I want,” she said, adding that, as an African American woman, she felt it was important to follow Martin Luther King’s example.
Plus, she wanted to follow the advice of her aunt, who raised her, she said.
“I was a substance abuse baby,” Elliott said. “Had my aunt not been there for me, I don’t know what would have happened to me. She tells me to pay it forward all the time.”
Also behind the MLK Day of Service at Prototypes was the CI Multicultural Center and Project ISLAS program. Project ISLAS is a grant-supported effort to educate potential students on how to get to college, and the importance of a college degree.