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Author: Javan Cross, First-Year Adviser at Warren County, Warren Early College and Warren New Tech High Schools

As a new college adviser in Warren County last semester I would frequently get asked, “So what do you do here?” I would respond proudly displaying my shiny nametag reading “Mr. Cross—College Adviser” and relay a well rehearsed charge of my duties, and whatever additional hat of responsibility I was wearing at the moment. However, I found my answers would hardly encompass what I was feeling my real job was: to show my students that I genuinely cared about their future. But how? How would I show I was willing to do the extra mile for them, this new curly headed guy who couldn’t grow a full beard yet, trying to give college/career advice? It took me until January during The MLK Day of Service to put it into words.

group working outsideI take special pride in serving on MLK Day in January because it is done in tribute to Dr. King, a man whose fight for equality was unparalleled. As a member of Americorps, our charge was to focus the service event around healthy food sustainability. I chose to join forces with Caroline Stover, another member of Americorps, whose work with the FoodCorps had begun planning a community garden behind Warren County High School. The plan was to recruit as many volunteers as possible and build several large garden beds to produce a variety of vegetables right behind the school!

The service event was a great success with roughly 30 members of the high school, community, local church, and more, coming together to do their part in building something for the high school. We were even featured in The Discourse (a local newspaper). The secret behind the success of the event was careful planning, but also collaboration with passionate people. My initial idea for the service event was taken to new heights because I asked for help from someone who had connections within the community. In the spirit of Dr. King, our success was only possible due to the passion of people coming together to make their community a better place.

After a long day of work, we sat down to eat lunch, donated by a local business garnished with several veggies from our own new garden. One of my students, a senior at WCHS, plopped down beside me to eat his sandwich and introduce me to his mentor. He offhandedly introduced me, “Ya know Mr. Cross don’t you? I’m tryna be like this guy when I graduate. He’s cool and gives us advice about college.” I about choked on a piece of lettuce. He continued, but more than that . . . he’s willing to serve even after the bell rings.

We didn’t find a cure for cancer, we didn’t solve the economic crisis, in fact, some would even say we just played in the mud for a few hours. However for one student, an act of service made all the difference to prove that Mr. Cross cared and that is enough for me. As a college adviser in Warren County this semester I get asked from time to time, “So what do you do here?” I respond proudly displaying my shiny nametag that reads “Mr. Cross—College Adviser” and simply respond . . .  “I serve.”

Want to do your part to serve the WCHS Community Garden?! Check out Indiegogo.

garden box

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