For the 29th year running, Pepperdine University students, faculty, staff and alumni participated in Step Forward Day, the University’s annual day of service to the community.
What began as a service project for two students who wanted to fill the need for volunteers in the local community and decided to share their vision and passion for service with their peers back in 1988 has blossomed into an annual nationwide event involving 1,800+ Pepperdine community members lending a hand to more than 75 organizations across the country.
“Step Forward Day is an opportunity for students and alumni to serve and connect with their local communities across the nation,” says Libby Bucci, student director of special events for the Pepperdine Volunteer Center. “By engaging and fostering relationships on a local level, we inherently strengthen the bonds within the Pepperdine community as well,” she adds.
The projects began as small acts of service—repairs on homes of local senior citizens or planting gardens. Then, in 1989, the first schoolwide Step Forward Day included 150 participants serving five sites in Malibu. Today, during a single Step Forward Day, the Pepperdine community serves a collective 4,500 hours—the time equivalent of two years of work for one person!
Helping Out Near & Far
This year’s volunteers were given the opportunity to serve more than 75 organizations at more than 90 locations across the country. Seventy-six service sites in Los Angeles and Ventura counties participated, including long-time partners such as the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row, Veterans Home of California in West Los Angeles, and the City of Malibu.
Some 73 of the 91 Step Forward Day service sites are located in local and Los Angeles area communities, and 24 are dedicated alumni service projects, aligned with Pepperdine’s goal of ongoing community service.
After almost three decades, Step Forward Day is recognized as one of the oldest, most consistent service events in the country and has become a tradition that asks the Pepperdine community to create momentum toward a year of service.
“OUR GOAL IS TO HAVE STEP FORWARD DAY BECOME A CATALYST FOR ENDURING SERVICE,” SAYS BUCCI. “WE HOPE VOLUNTEERS THAT STEPPED FORWARD ON SEPTEMBER 9 CONTINUE TO SERVE AND TRANSFORM THE COMMUNITIES AROUND THEM.”
Local sites of service included the Boys and Girls Club of Malibu, the Children’s Creative Workshop, the City of Malibu Senior Center, Legacy Park, Malibu Methodist Nursery School, Palisades-Malibu YMCA, Point Dume Marine Science School, Priorities Beach House Sober Living, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and the Surfrider Foundation.
“Volunteering with my fellow students really created a chance for us to bond over a great cause,” says Pepperdine junior Elizabeth Hsueh, from Carlsbad, who helped out at the local Boys and Girls Club, painting exterior walls and designing a mural. “Even activities such as weeding gardens, planting a few new trees, or painting a fence truly make a difference to someone in the community.
“To me, Step Forward Day represents something so special because on this one day, hundreds and hundreds of students carve time out of their many extracurriculars and free time to come together into what is the foundation of the Pepperdine community. Together, we go out into our surrounding communities and do all that we can to support the founding wish of George Pepperdine. We are blessed enough to attend a wonderful school that opens so many opportunities for us; a school which challenges us academically but also guides us morally to become citizens who can hopefully add to the world instead of taking away from it. Step Forward Day is just another beautiful representation of some of the wonderful, selfless and caring students here who inspire others to join in on the excitement for service to the community.”
Service & Stewardship
In the spirit and tradition of emphasizing sustainability and the moral responsibility of being caretakers of the Earth, the Pepperdine Volunteer Center took measures above and beyond the call of duty during Step Forward Day. Volunteers were encouraged to walk to nearby volunteer sites, vans and school buses were employed for carpooling, and volunteers’ official Step Forward Day t-shirts were made of 50% organic cotton and 50% polyester manufactured from recycled water bottles.
For more information about Step Forward Day, visit Pepperdine.edu/VolunteerCenter, or contact the Pepperdine Volunteer Center at 310.506.4143.