"Going to Whitman doesn't mean you just live in Walla Walla--in order to be a citizen here, you need to engage with the community." - Claire Pepple '18, Story Time Leader


About Our Programs

Our Community Engagement Programs allow Whitties to volunteer and connect to the Walla Walla Community on a regular basis. Each year a cohort of current students lead these programs with support from the Career and Community Engagement Center.  If you're interested in these (paid) leadership positions, hiring happens every spring! Contact ccec_info@whitman.edu or the Program Coordinator to learn more.

Community Engagement Programs


    Building bridges across generations.


    Adopt-A-Grandparent facilitates relationships between Whitman students and senior residents at Odd Fellows Home to create conversations and form relationships across generations.


    The Adopt-A-Grandparent program pairs Whitman students with residents at the nearby Odd Fellows senior home. Volunteers establish relationships with their adopted grandparents, helping to improve the quality of life for the residents through consistent companionship. 


    Applications open at the beginning of each semester. After the application due date, new volunteers learn about the program and complete paperwork at an orientation. You can sign up using the Community Engagement Universal Volunteer application. If you are interested in learning more before completing the application, you can email the Program Leaders at grandparent@whitman.edu. 

    Time Commitment

    Each volunteer commits one hour per week to visiting his/her grandparent and attends one large event each semester. Events include carnivals, performances, and dances put on by the Adopt-A-Grandparent program at the Odd Fellows senior home.


    Together, grandparents and volunteers write letters, tell stories, play games, listen to music, read books, go for walks, make crafts, and attend weekly programs at Odd Fellows (chair exercise, bingo, etc.) There are virtual options for meeting with grandparents plus the opportunity for window visits to allow for contact-free engagement. 

    Returning Volunteers

    Returning volunteers must attend orientation each year and renew their background checks. Without a current background check, returners can visit their grandparents only in public areas.


    If you cannot visit your grandparent during a given week, let him or her know in advance and notify the AAG intern, who records attendance.

    To promote friendships between Whitman Students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


    The Buddy Program connects students with intellectually or developmentally disabled adults in Walla Walla. Students meet with their community buddies twice a month for various activities, including dances, movie nights, crafts, bowling, and more. Outside of structured time, students will often get together with their buddies to get coffee, go to the park and Humane Society, and just hang out and have fun! Email buddyprogram@whitman.edu with any questions.

    Time Commitment

    Volunteers meet with their buddies once a month at Buddy Program events. Between planned events, students are expected to contact with their buddies once a week and as often as they would like. These contacts can include emails, phone calls, Facebook chats, letters, in-person outings, etc. It is best if student/buddy pairings last for at least a year. If a student goes abroad, his/her buddy will be assigned to someone new, but the student is encouraged to maintain contact.


    Applications open at the beginning of each semester. After the application due date, new volunteers learn about the program and complete paperwork at an orientation. You can sign up using the Community Engagement Universal Volunteer application. You can also reach out to buddyprogram@whitman.edu to express interest in joining the program.  

    Matching Process

    Matching occurs based on scheduling and responses to a survey in the application.


    If you cannot attend an event, contact your buddy and the Buddy Program Intern at buddyprogram@whitman.edu at least three days beforehand.

    Working towards a more just and equitable food system in the Walla Walla Valley


    The Food Justice Program aims to support the work of community partners who address issues of food access, food sovereignty, workers' rights, agricultural practices, resource distribution, sustainability, and other aspects of our food system. Through these partnerships we are working towards the overarching goal of food justice in the Walla Walla Valley. 

    Time Commitment

    Between 1-3 hours per week (depending on your availability).  


    We will be working primarily with the Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) Food Warehouse. Volunteers will have the option to support as many or as few of their programs as they are comfortable with. Box Building will happen two Fridays each month for about 3 hours in the afternoon. This activity will require volunteers to pack shelf-stable food into boxes to be delivered to local food pantries. Backpack Bridge will happen once a month where we will pack bags of meals for elementary school students who receive free or reduced lunch to ensure they have food over the weekends and school breaks. Another opportunity for volunteers is supporting BMAC's food bank with larger, less frequent food distribution events for volunteers to engage in and  we will keep Food Justice Project participants updated as these opportunities arise. 

    Materials Needed

    Closed toe shoes, a water bottle 


    If you are unable to come to an event that you have signed up for, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can accurately communicate to BMAC how much support we will be able to provide for any given day. 


    We will accept applications throughout the year! You can sign up using the Community Engagement Universal Volunteer application. You can also email Program Leaders at foodjustice@whitman.edu to express interest in joining the program. 

    Promoting early learning in Walla Walla by bringing story characters alive.


    Reading with the youngest members of our community is essential. Story Time volunteers travel to elementary and pre-K classrooms. The project aims to improve kids’ listening, speaking, writing, reading, and critical thinking skills through exposure to reading while also promoting diversity, acceptance, and the celebration of differing cultures through stories. The program includes children ages 2-7. Bilingual volunteers, especially those fluent in Spanish, are welcome, as several reading destinations are bilingual or Spanish-speaking environments.

    Story Time began in 2002 as a collaborative effort between the Walla Walla YMCA and the Whitman College Career and Community Engagement Center. It has since become a permanent program within the Career and Community Engagement Center and expanded to meet the needs of eleven local children's agencies. The project's collection of books includes over two hundred titles. More than fifty of the books are written in Spanish. The books have been purchased and donated through the generous support of Vanessa Prull, Earthlight Books, the Whitman College Bookstore, and members of the college community.

    Time Commitment

    Volunteers read for half an hour to an hour in pairs or individually.


    Applications are open at the beginning of each semester. Applicants are welcome to request their reading partners. For more information, email storytime@whitman.edu

    Planting the seeds of confidence in young students through sustained relationships with Whitman friends.


    Started in 1994 as part of Jamey Wolverton's psychology thesis, the Whitman Friends Program builds strong and lasting friendships between Whitman students and Walla Walla elementary schoolers. 

    Whitman students join their friend at recess once a week. Friends also visit Whitman College each spring for a day long carnival called Friends to Campus Day. 


    The Whitman Friends Program accepts online applications in early September for new mentors. Depending on the number of applicants and the number of friends studying abroad, it is also possible to join the program in January. You can sign up using the Community Engagement Universal Volunteer application and by reaching out to the Program Leaders at friends@whitman.edu/ 


    If you cannot make it on your designated day, contact your Intervention Specialist and CC friends@whitman.edu so that the Intervention Specialist can let your friend know and your absence can be excused. Unnotified friends often linger around the office for all of lunch and recess wondering why their friend didn't come visit. If you are in a carpool, let those people know as well. Finally, try to reschedule for another day that week or go twice the following week. Regular time together is vital for building a strong friendship.

    Additional Visits

    If you would like to visit your friend more than once a week, contact the designated Intervention Specialist for your school.

    Study Abroad

    Students who plan to go abroad can participate for a semester provided they find a replacement to fill in while they're away from campus.

    Friend Absences

    When a friend is sick, the Intervention Specialist notify us and interns try to inform the Whitman friend. If you arrive and realize that your friend is absent, spend time with the children from your friend's classroom.

    Questions? Contact:

    Abby Juhasz, Director for Community Engagement

    Christian Gachet, Community Engagement Coordinator