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Bridging the Gap: SWAG Students Volunteering at Haven of Rest

At Students With A Goal (SWAG), we are committed to developing well-rounded individuals who excel academically and contribute positively to their communities. Our out-of-school time academic mentoring program, based in Akron's Summit Lake Community Center, aims to instill a sense of purpose and leadership in our students. One of the ways we achieve this is by regularly involving our students in service projects. This month, our students had the opportunity to volunteer at the Haven of Rest, a cornerstone of social services.

The History of Haven of Rest

The day began with us learning about how Haven of Rest evolved from a small storefront Rescue Mission in 1943 to becoming a key social service agency in the region. Its history and impact on addressing the needs of homeless individuals underscored the significance of our volunteering experience, fostering a greater understanding of the community we are set to support.

The Day's Unexpected Task

When we arrived at Haven of Rest, we were prepared for hard physical labor—making beds, sorting items, or serving food. To our surprise, we were tasked with making cards. Yes, coloring cards. Initially, our students were taken aback. They had anticipated more strenuous activities and were unsure of the value of this seemingly simple task.

Turning Skepticism into Opportunity

Before our visit, I had a conversation with our students about maintaining a positive attitude and refraining from complaining. Despite this, their initial reactions ranged from melancholy to disbelief when they learned what they would be doing. However, this unexpected task provided a valuable teaching moment.

When Jan Pluck, the Volunteer Coordinator at Haven of Rest, stepped out to fetch the art supplies. The students and I discussed the importance of taking small steps to achieve big goals. Just as suspension bridges are built piece by piece, so too are the projects and efforts that make a significant impact. Small tasks, even those that seem insignificant, can contribute to larger, meaningful outcomes. This discussion helped the students understand that generosity is not just about grand gestures but also about small, thoughtful actions that bring joy and comfort to others.

A Lesson in Generosity

As the day progressed, our students embraced the card-making task with enthusiasm and creativity. They realized that their efforts, however small, were meaningful. The cards they created would bring smiles to the faces of those who receive them, spreading a message of hope and kindness.

By the end of our volunteer time at the Haven of Rest, the students had learned a valuable lesson: generosity is more than elaborate donations or noticeable actions. Even small steps can lead to giant leaps. They left with a sense of accomplishment and a deeper understanding of how their actions, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in the lives of others.


Our visit to the Haven of Rest was a powerful reminder of the importance of community service and the impact of small, thoughtful actions. At SWAG, we continue to encourage our students to take these lessons to heart, fostering a sense of purpose and leadership that will serve them well in all aspects of their lives.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Haven of Rest for giving us this opportunity and to our students for their willingness to learn and grow through service. To our donors, parents, volunteers, and supporters, your contributions make these experiences possible. Together, we are shaping the leaders of tomorrow.


If you are interested in learning more about SWAG or would like to support our mission, please reach out to us. Let's continue to make a difference, one small step at a time.


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