Bonner Scholars travel north for Open Door Outreach

Waynesburg University Bonner Scholars travel every Friday for service at the Open Door Youth Outreach Center in Pittsburgh to give children and young adults somewhere to feel safe and help enrich their skills.

“I think they really value our students,” Assistant Dean of Student Development Adrienne Tharp said. “They have often sought us out saying, ‘Hey we cannot wait to have your students back, when are they coming back from vacation?’”

The Executive Director of Open Door, Brian Mack, confirmed Tharp’s thought that the service site appreciates the volunteer work.

“With any non-profit, volunteer recruitment is a challenge,” Mack said. “Having a bunch of fun, young, energetic college students help out is a huge blessing.”

From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Waynesburg University Bonner Scholars help with the Friday Night Rec at the Crafton Heights United Presbyterian Church on 50 Stratmore St. in Pittsburgh.

“It is good for our students to be able to step outside their comfort zone and work with some intercity youth,” Tharp said. “Compared to some of the small town kids that they are working with here [Waynesburg].”

The service runs in two, two-hour long sessions. The 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. session is with children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The second session from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. includes children in grades six through 12.

The Open Door service for Bonner Scholars allows for more than just the students to serve the community, but to build relationships with those they help.

“I’ve yet to see them in action at Open Door,” Tharp said. “But they know the kids, they know their families, and when they’re not there and come back from summer and winter breaks, they are excited to go back and see their kids.”

For those interested, go online to the Open Door website,, which shows where to donate. These donations allow the non-profit program to continue to provide for children.

“All of our programs operate free for the kids in the neighborhood,” Mack said. “Donations allow us to purchase snacks for the kids and it allows us to pay the heating bill.”

Open Door is open to any student that wants to serve, there are just two requirements before one can ride the van up north with others.

“We can only send seven students each week, mainly because of transportation,” Tharp said. “All they need are a child abuse clearance and criminal record clearance.”