"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. Video created by Katy Laliotis '21.


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. 

Here is a message of gratitude from our 2019-2020 Community Engagement Program Coordinators!


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. Read the most recent news about Adopt-a-Grandparent on our blog.


    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. Email the Adopt-A-Grandparent intern 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 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.)

    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.

    Using language to bridge cultures and build safety nets.


    Bilingual United volunteers assist in elementary classrooms at Green Park and Edison elementary schools in Walla Walla. Volunteers act as an academic and emotional support as they transition from learning only in Spanish to learning in English.


    Bilingual United volunteers offer academic support to ELL students in K-3 classrooms with students working on  math, science and literacy fundamentals. Email gpbilingual@whitman.edu with questions and read program blog posts to learn more.

    Spanish Ability

    Spanish language proficiency is a pre-requisite for this opportunity. Students who have tested into 200-level or about Spanish courses at Whitman (or can otherwise prove proficiency) are eligible.

    Time Commitment & Slots

    Volunteers work in the classroom for 1-3 hours a week. The walking commute is a short walk or bike ride to either Green Park or Edison Elementary. Additionally, a mandatory hour-long orientation occurs at the beginning of each semester. Volunteers are excused from working on vacations and during finals.

    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 questions and check out these posts to learn more.

    Time Commitment

    Volunteers meet with their buddies twice a month at The Buddy Program events. Between planned events, students are expected to contact with their buddies on two other occasions throughout the month. 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 in September. Depending on how many Whitman buddies study abroad in the spring, it is often possible to become a buddy starting in January.

    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.

    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 classrooms and daycares throughout Walla Walla to read stories to children. 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.

    To learn more, read blog posts pertaining to the project.

    Time Commitment

    Readers work in pairs and read for half an hour each week.


    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 mentors.


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

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


    The Whitman Friends Mentor Program accepts online applications in early September for new mentors. Depending on the number of applicants and the number of mentors studying abroad, it is also possible to join the program in January. Email mentor@whitman.edu with questions.


    If you cannot make it on your designated day, contact your Intervention Specialist and CC mentor@whitman.edu so that the Intervention Specialist can let your mentee know and your absence can be excused. Unnotified mentees often linger around the office for all of lunch and recess wondering why their mentor 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 mentor/mentee relationship.

    Additional Visits

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

    Study Abroad

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

    Mentee Absences

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

    Started in 2011, Whitman Teaches the Movement (WTTM) trains Whitman students to visit local K-12 classrooms to teach age-appropriate lessons about the civil rights. The project enriches the educational experience of everyone who participates and emphasizes the present-day importance of the civil rights movement. For this year's schedule and more information, visit the WTTM website

    Questions? Contact:

    Abby Juhasz, Assistant Director for Community Engagement

    Susan Prudente, Assistant Director for Community Engagement