By Jessica Feldman
Plenty of students at the University of Maryland find ways to get involved on campus. Terps for Change works differently, in that it helps students work with the surrounding community to make a difference.
Terps for Change is “committed to connecting the university with the local community through sustained, collaborative, and meaningful community service-learning,” according to the Stamp Student Union website.
The program assigns volunteers to travel to local sites that benefit their specific fields. The semester-long commitment deals with varying social issues, such as environmental sustainability, education, care for the elderly and others.
While Terps for Change is dedicated to making a difference for others, the program itself has also had an impact on its members.
Senior public health science major Ashley Bamfo is a dedicated coordinator for Terps for Change. Bamfo has been coordinating Community Fork Lift, a nonprofit reuse center for home improvement supplies. The center sells home appliances like washing machines at affordable prices for the less fortunate.
“I got placed there, and I love it,” Bamfo said. “We are helping the community out, and we see how our work has been appreciated in terms of just how many paint cans are flying off the shelves and things like that.”
She plans to continue coordinating for the program next semester.
Before joining Terps for Change, Bamfo was not aware that organizations such as Community Fork Lift even existed and had no scope of how necessary a center such as this one could be.
“There is a sense of just trying to help out at maybe the lowest level, and then that lowest level feeds into a higher level,” Bamfo said. “It’s very interesting … to be at that low level, but see how your work has improved the lives of others.”
Sandaru Silva, a senior finance major, has worked with the program for two years. She currently works as a coordinator for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) at William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale Park. AVID specializes in college preparation.
“I think [Terps for Change] gets you started thinking about different social issues, and specifically on one if you stick to like the same site every semester like I have,” Silva said.
From this experience, Silva has realized that she wants to travel back to her home country of Sri Lanka after graduation and potentially start an education or scholarship fund for underprivileged kids.
“The school we work with … has a majority of Hispanic and African American kids, so then you see how like different social issues play into their education like immigrant status or socioeconomic status,” Silva said. “It gets you thinking and kind of opens your eyes and makes you want to give back and keep continuing with the program.”