January 31, 2012
About 30 students from UCLA joined a dozen or so students, parents and staff from Mark Twain Middle School on Saturday to help improve the school’s “learning garden.” The volunteers weeded, mulched, cleared and leveled ground for a new outdoor amphitheater and built a grape arbor from rebar.
Rebecca Verlaque is a senior at UCLA, majoring in international development. Verlaque was looking to engage beyond the campus and last year she went to an event sponsored by UCLA’s Volunteer Center. She enjoyed it so much that when she heard the center was looking for more student fellows this year, she applied and became one of 10 volunteer leaders who help to organize students for community service projects.
Verlaque served as the coordinator with Danny Duel for the event on Saturday at Mark Twain, the first in a monthly series called “One Bus, One Cause” where students from the university are taken to sites around the city to work together with locals to improve their community.
Verlaque said that she found Mark Twain through Marianne Brown, the master gardener for several schools in the Venice and Mar Vista area. Brown contacted the center to see if they’d be interested in teaming up. And, said Verlaque, “We were looking for a place where volunteers could get a hands-on experience.”
The volunteers were certainly hands-on Saturday, as they worked in the garden and shaped and installed rebar to build a grape arbor. Verlaque said the work would help the school with its “culture gardens,” areas where they will plant crops that go with the different languages to be taught at the school. The grape arbor will be part of the French garden.
The event was an all around success, said Verlaque, “We got a lot done. I’m really proud of our work.”