Fine and Performing Arts faculty, staff join together to serve local nonprofits

Will Peebles (holding drill) of WCU’s School of Music joins a local Habitat for Humanity volunteer in working on a handrail for a new deck at a Habitat project near Sylva.

The faculty and staff of Western Carolina University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts got revved up for the start of fall semester by banding together and providing service in the form of physical labor for a variety of local community organizations.

Taking a break from their work in the Cullowhee Community Garden are (from left) Lyn Burkett of the School of Music, Morgan Kennedy and Kevin Kirkpatrick of the School of Art and Design, and Jill Jacobs of the Bardo Arts Center.

Fifty-four representatives from the college went out to serve six local organizations Tuesday, Aug. 15. The benefiting organizations included United Christian Ministries, Full Spectrum Farms, Habitat for Humanity, Sylva Linings Thrift Store, Equinox Ranch and the Cullowhee Community Garden. Their tasks ranged from basic garden work to painting, power-washing and constructing a kids’ swing set.

The service projects were organized by staff from WCU’s Center for Service Learning, including Lane Perry, director, and Jennifer Cooper, associate director. “The folks from the College of Fine and Performing Arts did fantastic work. We got glowing reports from all the nonprofit partners they worked with,” Cooper said.

Individual departments and units on WCU’s campus have participated in organized service days before, but the Fine and Performing Arts initiative is believed to be the first such college-level effort. The college is currently celebrating its first decade on campus.

“We wanted to give back to the community in our 10th year,” said Andrew Adams, assistant professor of piano and associate dean in the College of Fine and Performing Arts. “I think all of our faculty and staff who were in town participated. Our community has done so much to support us through attending our events and providing resources through our Friends of the Arts, among other outlets for support.”

The Fine and Performing Arts crew at Full Spectrum Farms, which serves individuals with autism spectrum disorder, show off the play/swing set they helped construct. Pausing during their work are (from left) Arledge Armenaki, Dustin Whitehead and Jayme McGhan of the School of Stage and Screen, Chris Beyt and Damon Sink of the School of Music, and an unidentified person associated with Full Spectrum Farms.

Erin Adams, associate professor and coordinator of WCU’s Interior Design Program (and no relation to Andrew Adams), worked in pricing and tagging items for sale at the Sylva Linings Thrift Store. Even though she was working at the thrift store on the service day, Adams is very familiar with Equinox Ranch, a Cullowhee residential property that is being converted into a seven-bedroom retreat center for combat veterans. She has been providing design consulting services for the facility since late 2016.

“I think the CFPA day of service was an excellent idea and a great way for our faculty and staff to give back to a community that supports our mission on a daily basis, and I hope this becomes an annual event,” Adams said.