"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.



These programs allow Whitties to volunteer and connect to the Walla Walla Valley on a regular basis.  Each year a cohort of current students lead these programs with support from the Student Engagement Center.  If you're interested in these (paid) leadership positions, hiring happens every spring--contact communityservice@whitman.edu to learn more. 

There are a large assortment of volunteer opportunities listed in detail below.  Please read through them and see what looks interesting to you. We'd love to discuss our programs with you and place you in a volunteer program that engages you and your talents!

In addition to these volunteer opportunities, the SEC organizes Summer Community OutReach Excursion (SCORE) and Spring Break Engagement Trips, and annual events which are also led by students.  Find more information in the accordion below (these two events are distinguished by an asterisk). You can also contact us by calling the Student Engagement Center at 509-527-5183 or emailing servicetrips@whitman.edu or serviceevents@whitman.edu.

Here is a message of gratitude from ur 2019-2020 Community Engagement Student Program Leaders!


Contact Us

Abby Juhasz, Community Service Coordinator

Reid 223

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.

Engaging local high-school students through academic support.


Classroom Connections seeks to provide high school students in the Walla Walla community with Whitman volunteer classroom tutors and role models who will help students develop self-confidence in their ability to be successful in higher education through promoting academic commitment, strong study skills, goal setting, and college planning awareness.


Classroom Connections is the only SEC community service program that serves high-school students. Many Whitties who participate are interested in education reform, Teach for America, and other post-graduate education goals. Email classroom.connections@whitman.edu with questions.

Time Commitment

Volunteers tutor once a week for at least a semester in Guided Study classrooms. Carpools are available.

Guided Study

Guided Study is a class offered at Walla Walla High School for students who specifically request it or are referred due to low academic performance. Some students are directly placed in Guided Study from middle school, others come in later after an unsuccessful quarter or for other reasons. Students can "test out" of Guided Study by improving their academic performance after a certain period of time (but always at the end of a quarter — students do not leave mid-quarter). The classroom is designed to provide 9th and 10th grade students with a structured environment to complete work independently and develop study skills. Students fill out planners, set goals, check progress reports, and complete their work all under the supervision of a teacher and a para-educator. Guided Study also exposes students to the possibilities of college. Students will explore different schools, learn about the application process and , and apply that information to their own academic standing.


Tutors help the classroom teacher by keeping students on task to get their homework done, checking their progress reports and planners, and assisting with assignments and study skills. Tutors also lead small group activities intended to motivate students to pursue college dreams.


Volunteers must attend one orientation per year, complete background checks and fill out a Volunteer Disclosure Agreement and Community Service Liability Waiver.


Applications open at the beginning of each semester. Contact classroom.connections@whitman.edu to learn more.

Engaging students in service beyond Whitman.


Spring Break Engagement Trips are week-long volunteer trips that allow Whitman students to focus on a particular social issue outside of the Walla Walla community. Participants volunteer with a primary social organization throughout the week, in addition to working with other non-profits. Students also have a chance to explore the area they visit. The groups are often housed at local churches and cook most meals together.


Trip destinations and themes vary from year to year. Some previous examples include: Refugees & Resettlement in Seattle, WA; Environmental Conservation in Arcata, CA; Urban Education in Portland, OR; and Relief & Rebuilding in New Orleans, LA. 2020 Spring break trips are: CTUIR led, student-led/planned Local Politics, and OP/SBET trail restoration. 


To learn more, download the SBET FAQ sheet. To apply to become a leader, request an application to participate, or to set up an appointment with SBET Program Leaders, contact servicetrips@whitman.edu.

Past Participant Reflections

"[This trip] was very informative and I got to know so many things about incarceration that I never knew before. It was very helpful to get different perspective from people in different positions and from different backgrounds." - a spring 2018 participant

"Occasionally a person gets to do something that they can remember as monumental, life-changing, revolutionary, and this has been one of those moments.  My service trip to New Orleans has been far more than I ever expected, and something I will not soon forget." Nelson Falkenberg '14


SCORE 2016 booklet cover

Download the SCORE FAQ sheet and click the image for the SCORE Pamphlet.

Explore Walla Walla before classes start with a Summer Community OutReach Excursion for incoming students! In addition to working with great non-profits and community organizations in town, you'll also see some beautiful sunsets, have a picnic dinner in the wheat fields (a Whitman must), eat the legendary Walla Walla burrito, get to know parks in town, and more, all before other first-years arrive. 

The excursions are student-led pre-orientation trips that allow incoming students to contribute to community service projects in the Walla Walla Valley and get to know their fellow teammates through hard work and lots of fun. SCORE participants volunteer at a project each day and go on field trips to non-profits to gain an understanding of the social issues that affect our community. Evening activities provide opportunities for fun and reflection for the new students and leaders. Students will be housed at nearby churches and will cook most meals together.

For the most recent news about SCORE, read our posts on the SEC Blog.

How to Apply

2018 SCOREs will take place August 16-23.  Here is the application.  

Past Participant Reflections

"The SCORE program helped me feel more connected to both the Whitman and Walla Walla communities." - Zoe Brown '21

“SCORE was an incredible experience that allowed me to question my own opinions and make new and informed ones. [...] The week was filled with laughter and new understanding.” Kate Whittingham ‘18

"I think we need to understand the community we will become a part of.  We need to know its flaws to work toward fixing them.  Also, [SCORE] was fun!"  - Zidane Galant-LaPorte '21

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 Student Engagement Center. It has since become a permanent program within the Student 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 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 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