A look at Virtual Service at Morehouse College

by Henry Charles McCants V

https://soundcloud.com/user-128416163/service-on-a-screen

“I love movies…So seeing that we’re actually living something that I’ve seen before in a movie…it was that initial shock and fright.”

This is a statement from Kevin D. Chapman, assistant director of the Bonner Office of Community Service at Morehouse College.

The Bonner Office of Community Service is the central hub for community involvement at Morehouse College.

“So the Office of Community Service really does the mission work of Morehouse college [to develop men with discipline and minds, who lead lives of leadership and service]. And we do that within our office by creating volunteer opportunities that are in alignment with the college.”

The Bonner Office of Community Service has paired with community partners such as Raising Expectations and Collegiate 100 to provide tutors and mentors to grade school students.

“…their focus is on education… being mentors and tutors and classroom assistants… that’s how all of those programs come together in its unique way to address and really build upon a common goal of volunteerism.”

“So, you know, naturally when I learned how serious this thing really had become …not only in our city, state and country, but you know, it being a global pandemic…there was some anxiety…I was scared, you know, just like anybody else.”

This was Mr. Chapman’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had concerns about job security and student engagement with the Office of Community Service, as students and faculty alike were quickly sent home.

“…so as it relates to Morehouse, you know, companies and institutions started to shut down. So concerns about jobs, concerns about students continuing their education and what the work could potentially look like.”

This immediate shift posed a threat to the dynamic of the office.

Fortunately, Mr. Chapman, and his supervisor Dr. Whitney, were already planning a new shift in how service could be conducted, that would prove to be instrumental for the office’s survival.

“We were originally planning to do a more hybrid and virtual type of service. So, um, once COVID hit, man, you know, the wheels started turning and the communication picked up.”

“So instead of doing the tutoring in person, uh, we looked at different platforms such as zoom or Microsoft teams… we encourage our students of course, to go live to where you can still see the face and hear a voice rather than look at a blank screen or look at texts across the screen for that person and engage in tutor and mentor there.”

With the implementation of these new virtual adjustments, Mr. Chapman and the Bonner Office of Community Service look forward to the open possibilities that technology offers its programs, and they look fondly towards the future.

“…it’s cool that we get to use these technological advances to connect with people…It gives us an opportunity to show what Morehouse is beyond borders. And that’s what we want to continue to do.”