Step Forward Day Embodies Spirit of Service

Each year, hundreds of alumni across the nation serve with their local chapters at nonprofit organizations on Step Forward Day—which was established more than three decades ago by two Seaver College students and now involves alumni, parents, faculty and staff from all five of Pepperdine’s schools.

The 31st Annual Step Forward Day on September 7 will give alumni, parents and friends the opportunity to demonstrate Pepperdine’s mission in their own communities by participating in more than 20 service projects throughout the United States on the same day.

“Step Forward Day is our marquee program where the entire community embodies the Pepperdine mission of purpose, service and leadership and serves together,” explains Anthony Rivero, Assistant Director for the Pepperdine Volunteer Center who is overseeing Step Forward Day.

“We use this day of service to kick-off the school year but also kick-off a year of service,” Rivero says. “This day is more than just an event, but an introduction to our community and the great things they do and how we can partner with them for sustainable change.” 

In the 31st year of Step Forward Day, members of the Pepperdine community can expect to serve with their peers.

“They will connect with local nonprofits, create partnerships and serve them,” says Rivero.

Expanded Outreach

On Step Forward Day with Pepperdine alumni, volunteer projects take place throughout the United States, including at sites in Arizona, Illinois, California, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Washington and Georgia.

For instance, Phoenix Waves will return to Feed My Starving Children, an organization dedicated to providing meals to children in need around the world, in which volunteers will help by sorting and packaging bulk food items for international distribution in Mesa, Arizona.

For Trail Trekkers, an organization working to improve the trails and natural habitats in the Hillside Natural Area in El Cerrito, volunteers will help widen and smooth out paths and remove vegetative debris and invasive plants to make the trails safer and reduce fire risk.

The Orange County Tunnel to Towers 5K supports the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization dedicated to families of military members and first responders who have sacrificed life and limb for their country. For this effort, volunteers will help run the event, including set-up and check-in. 

Las Vegas alumni will serve at Three Square, an organization dedicated to providing three square meals each day to residents in the surrounding area. Volunteers will help pack produce and grocery items, sort donated food, prepare meals for distribution, and perform other essential tasks to help combat hunger in the community.

Los Angeles Waves will meet up at Doors of Hope Women’s Shelter, a ministry providing a safe and nurturing environment where homeless women can receive food, clothing and temporary shelter. Volunteers will help with routine maintenance on the shelter’s campus in Wilmington, California.

Bay Area Waves plan to help in Menlo Park at LifeMoves, a nonprofit that provides interim housing and supportive services to help homeless families and individuals find stable housing and establish long-term self-sufficiency. Volunteers will help maintain and beautify the LifeMoves campus by planting, weeding and potting in the house garden.

Carolina Waves will gather at Shepherd Youth Ranch, an organization that rehabilitates individuals dealing with mental health disorders, child abuse or neglect, and similar backgrounds. Volunteers will help maintain the campus by repairing and cleaning the facilities.

Portland Waves will meet up with Northwest Children’s Outreach, which works to fill the needs of Oregon families by providing clothing, infant care products, diapers, formula and other necessities. Volunteers will help by packing supplies and filling orders to distribute to families in need.

Closer to home, Conejo Valley Waves will meet at Gabriel’s House, an organization serving homeless and at-risk populations in the area, with an 83% success rate for past occupants reentering society with jobs and housing for their families. Volunteers will help by gardening, cleaning and repairing to maintain the property.

Los Angeles Waves will help at the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena—which works to enable children and youth in the community to reach their full potential as productive, caring, healthy and responsible citizens—by gardening, cleaning and repairing the property.

Nashville Waves will serve at Second Harvest Food Bank, helping to prepare and pack meals for delivery to the 1 in 8 Middle Tennesseans who struggle with hunger every day.

Sacramento Waves will help support the American Heart Association Sacramento Heart & Stroke Walk event by setting up and running the event, including registration and monitoring the Kids Zone.

Los Angeles Waves will meet at the San Fernando Institute of Applied Media, a public middle school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and education. Volunteers will help maintain, garden and beautify the campus. Los Angeles Waves will also participate in a beach clean-up with Heal the Bay, contributing to the organization’s efforts to remove tons of pollution from beaches, waterways and inland neighborhoods to reduce blight, protect marine animals and boost the regional economy.

Waves of Flags

Additionally, all alumni, family and friends are invited to join Seaver College and George Pepperdine College Alumni Relations for Waves of Flags. For this annual tradition, Waves will meet at Pepperdine’s Malibu campus to enjoy lunch together, install flags in Alumni Park and assemble paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that has delivered more than 2.3 million care packages filled with items donated by grateful American and service-friendly companies that want to express their support for heroes serving overseas and here at home.

Step Forward Day at Pepperdine will also include food served by In-N-Out Burger, as well as games, music and other festivities. Additionally, there will be a Waves of Flags installation commemorating every life lost during the tragedy of September 11, 2001. 

“Our theme for the year is a sports theme,” Rivero says. “Connecting to our unique mission statement, we are using Step Forward Day as a kick-off to our year of service. In ways that other universities invest in sports programs, we invest in service and our communities. Our shirts will don the saying, ‘Community First’ on the back, showing our commitment to service to the community. Please join our team as we fight systemic injustice in our community.”

The ultimate goal for Step Forward Day is “to intentionally connect our community,” Rivero further emphasizes.

“We want to help redefine the idea of service by placing the community first,” he says. “We believe service can happen on multiple planes by creating awareness, physically serving with the community, and creating advocates for the future. We hope Step Forward Day is an event that can initiate the connection to the community and provides us opportunity to serve them in meaningful ways.”

To register for a volunteer activity, or for more information about Step Forward Day, visit Pepperdine.edu/Alumni/events/Step-Forward-Day.htm.