They got up early, boarded buses and headed to the historic Mount Moriah Cemetery to give the grounds a facelift.
“I'm glad that we ended up with Mt. Moriah, it was such a history lesson,” said the Rev. Elisha Morris, Cheyney’s internship coordinator.
Mount Moriah Cemetery is the final resting place for former mayors of Philadelphia, civil war soldiers, and other notable historic figures. It relies heavily on volunteers.
Cheyney students contributed to the cemetery’s restoration and maintenance efforts by removing shrubs, mowing the grass, raking leaves, picking up trash and beautifying the grounds.
Morris organized the day of service for the Cheyney students, wholeheartedly believing the activity helped to indoctrinate a message of making a contribution.
The day of service also served as an ice-breaker activity for incoming freshman, creating new relationships and inspiring teamwork.
“Community service is a big part of education,” Morris said. “You can’t plan to make a lot of money when you get out of school and not be concerned about the people who couldn’t afford to go to college. You need to be an inspiration to others just like the people who came before you and paved the way for you.”
For the past two years Morris has passionately embraced his role within the University College. In addition to coordinating internships, he assists first and second year students with transitioning into college life.
With the support of his boss, Robin Williams, Morris sought out to “remind the kids that they are privileged to be in college.”
He contacted an associate, Todd Bernstein, founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service/MLK365. Bernstein directed him to Paulette Rhone, board president of the Friends for Mount Moriah Cemetery.
Rhone and Anthony Selletti, vice president of the Friends for Mount Moriah Cemetery, were among those that hosted the student group.
“He is extremely knowledgeable of the civil war era and Philadelphia’s involvement,” Morris said. “I issue a challenge to every youth group to get involved. This (Mount Moriah Cemetery) is historical, it’s in our community. Go out there for four hours and try to make a difference. It's just good to get your hands dirty doing something every now and again.”
His students have expressed interest in returning to Mount Moriah according to Morris.
“My kids want to do it,” he said. “They want to go back and that has inspired me.”
Another group of Cheyney freshmen spent their day of service at Coatesville’s Community, Youth and Women’s Alliance (CYWA).
The organization provides temporary shelter to homeless women and their children.
“It gives hope that we’re not forgotten,” said CYWA’s special projects director Roger Wayne.