Giving Back to My City: Kennedy Jones '21

When I was growing up, my mom emphasized the importance of giving back to a community – whether you’re visiting for two weeks or living there for two years. She sparked my desire to serve others.

Naturally, at Widener University, I chose tourism and hospitality management as my major because of the prominence placed on creating memorable experiences for people. I learned that civic engagement and hospitality go hand in hand.

Widener has given me countless opportunities to engage in the City of Chester and to give back to those who may be less fortunate than me.

For example, my fellow hospitality classmates and I hosted a dinner on campus to raise scholarship funds for high school seniors in Chester in October. We partnered with the Chester Upland School District and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wallingford to make this possible.

Students prepare a meal at the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving

Widener University tourism and hospitality management students, including Kennedy Jones (right), prepare a Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army.

Then, the university’s hospitality management and tourism program hosted its annual Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army on W. 15th Street in Chester. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – a day when most people are heading home to celebrate with family – my classmates and I cooked and served a free turkey feast. There was no need for reservations; everyone was welcome.

These community events aren’t just an occasional thing. As a Presidential Service Corps Bonner Leader at Widener, I’m committed to 10 hours per week of community service. I volunteer at the Chester Senior Center every Tuesday and Thursday.

Whether I’m calling Bingo or planning a masquerade ball, I love having fun with the seniors and learning about Chester’s history from them.

The result is that I now see Chester as my second home. The city has allowed me to grow and explore.

But, I also am confident that my time here has positively impacted the city and its residents. I hope that with every meal served or conversation started, I’ve brightened at least one person’s day.

That’s what my mom – and Widener – have taught me about how to serve the place you call ‘home.’


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