This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below one HPU student is dedicated to volunteerism and creating an impact in the local community.
Dalton Lucas is only a sophomore, but he’s already creating impact through his work with nonprofit organizations and policy.
If you ask Dalton Lucas, a Roanoke, Virginia native, what service means to him, he’ll tell you it means everything.
“Service has always been a big part of my upbringing and my life,” says Lucas. “If you’re given a plethora of opportunities, you should want to do something positive.”
But Lucas didn’t fully realize how much he could capitalize on his ability to serve others until his journey at HPU began.
The Front Lines of Change
Lucas is a political science major with a minor in civic responsibility and social innovation. He’s also a member of HPU’s Bonner Leaders, a four-year program that puts students at the front lines of change by promoting leadership development and connecting them to service projects in the community.
Through the Bonner Leaders Program, Lucas was connected to West End Ministries, a nonprofit organization, where he organizes the food pantry and tutors children. But no matter what job he’s doing, he’s always smiling.
“When a child is excited about math and science and you get to help them, that’s a great opportunity,” says Lucas.
As a political science major, he has a passion to make change at a policy level. With guidance from Dr. Joe Blosser, Robert G. Culp Jr. director of service learning and assistant professor of religion and philosophy, Lucas began volunteering with the city of High Point’s Community Development and Housing Department.
“Dalton has a remarkable ability to learn about the challenges people face and then connect them to large-scale policy level decisions,” says Blosser. “So when he encountered food insecurity, poverty and educational disparities at West End Ministries, he wanted to engage these issues at both the face-to-face level and by working with the city of High Point to improve policy and systems.”
Paving the Way for Policy
And that face-to-face level has been an experiential learning lesson for Lucas.
“This has been a great opportunity because I get to see how policies impact the community,” says Lucas. “We need food pantries, tutoring programs and community resources, but I want to learn what the government can and can’t do so I can help make change.”
His responsibilities include shadowing city employees to inspect houses, hosting community events and regularly speaking at city council meetings.
Through his experiences with the Bonner program, Lucas is getting one-on-one time with neighbors in the surrounding community.
“I see how service can truly change people’s lives,” says Lucas. “We represent HPU and help develop an ‘our city, our university’ mentality. When we go out into the community, we’re not only representing HPU, but also an entire city.”
Lucas recently started a new role as the community garden coordinator at local nonprofit West End Ministries.
His responsibilities include maintaining the garden so fresh fruits and vegetables are available to neighbors, recruiting volunteers for service projects, fundraising and planning events to help build a sense of community within the neighborhood.
“I will continue the desire to create a culture of volunteerism on HPU’s campus so students become more and more involved within this community,” says Lucas. “With events like the annual MLK Day of Service, students are beginning to understand, interact and solve problems community members face.”
To Lucas, it doesn’t matter where he is — a city council meeting or a community food pantry — he will continue bringing people together.
“The more we’re united, the more we can do to change people’s lives and have an impact in the world,” says Lucas. “When Bonners go out into the community, we have that in mind. I wear purple every time to let people know that I’m proud to be an HPU student.”