Connecting Grinnellians

February 27, 2020

Joseph Dudley ’20

For anyone looking for an opportunity to engage in some local community service, Connecting Grinnellians is an excellent student organization to consider. Connecting Grinnellians has been serving the Grinnell community since 2017 by connecting Grinnell College students with opportunities to volunteer in the local schools. In collaboration with service learning work-study students and staff from the local schools, Connecting Grinnellians connects students with opportunities to help youth with their homework and support school resource closets that are stocked with the supplies necessary to help address needs that arise from students facing issues related to financial insecurity.

Carlos Piedrasanta ’20 is the president of Connecting Grinnellians. Piedrasanta, a former service learning work-study student at the Grinnell high school, began by helping to coordinate the school’s resource room.  While working at the high school Piedrasanta met students who he thought might benefit from additional support.  In order to recruit the needed college student volunteers, he and some of his peers began Connecting Grinnellians.  Now, Connecting Grinnellians provides volunteers to Grinnell High School and Middle School, as well as Davis Elementary School. Piedrasanta estimates that Connecting Grinnellians has provided forty local students with free homework help in the last three years and says that the resource closets are visited multiple times per day. In addition to these day-to-day services, Connecting Grinnellians is also collecting volunteers to paint new murals that will brighten up spaces in the Grinnell Middle School.  Connecting Grinnellians also coordinates free haircuts for local students, provided by RJ’s Barbershop.

In a small community like Grinnell, where 40% of local students qualify for free or reduced lunch, this kind of assistance goes a long way. And for Grinnellians, the organization offers an invaluable opportunity to give back to the community at large while developing skills in education and community engagement. Piedrasanta says he often thinks of a saying his parents would repeat to him: “To whom much is given, much is required.” He sees Connecting Grinnellians as a way to turn the privilege he and all his fellow students are afforded by attending Grinnell into an opportunity to make a positive impact on the local community.

Connecting Grinnellians is just one example of Grinnell’s commitment to supporting student organizations. From Food House — an organization dedicated to the cooking and sharing of delicious food — to the Kickboxing and Self Defense Club, there are more than one hundred student organizations available to join on the Grinnell campus. And, if none of the current student organizations speak to your interests, Grinnell offers generous funding to new clubs; all you have to do is get a few like-minded friends together, and you can form something entirely your own.

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