Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Volunteers In Education

Chico State’s volunteers in education (C.A.V.E) first opened its doors in 1966.  Officially called “community action volunteers,” the group was founded not only help the community, but to give students meaningful hands-on experience.

According to the website, students have an “increasing responsibility and supervise one another in specific community engagement projects.  Most students begin as Group Leaders who recruit, screen, supervise, and evaluate the volunteers enrolled in their specific projects (i.e., Special Pals, Yountville Veterans Home).

“Because of the size and scope of CAVE,” according to the site, “…an additional level of leadership was established around ‘program areas’ such as Kids Programs, State Facilities, Adult Programs, Service-Learning, Clerical and Events. Student directors oversee each of the program areas within CAVE….” 

Volunteers at Sonoma State Hospital on the Infinity Ward, for example, which met the needs of severely disabled children, took a weekend bus to play, talk and nurtured children — all organized and coordinated by student volunteers trying to make a difference.

It is a fact there were students trying to make a qualitative difference, and many shunned the drugs and protests.  But CAVE got its spark from an antiwar protest.  When an instructor, Ed DiTullio, angered by a heckler, cursed a right-winger at a downtown Chico rally in 1966, the university fired him.  DiTullio, an Asian-history professor, mentioned he had served in Korea when someone in the crowd shouted "On which side?"

It is not hard to imagine what he might have said, but fired?

No doubt the free speech movement, was fresh in the minds of students at Cal State.  Many came from the Bay Area, and the turmoil that began in Berkeley in 1964 was real.  This national, and especially Chico's regional history, makes the founding of CAVE all the more remarkable.

In this turmoil the student community blossomed.

While many staged protests and sit-ins, others were working constructively.  Tim Tregarthen and Carlene St. John, for example, ran for office on campus, and were elected for student president and vice president, in 1966, according to an article in the Chico News & Review, and made good on a promise about stating a tutorial program.  The Associated Student leaders started CAVE, a community action volunteer organization.

That was 50 years ago, and in October CAVE will be celebrating those years.

“Through the hard work of 5,000 student staff members since 1966, CAVE has placed a total of 50,000 volunteers. Those Chico State students provided three million hours to our community, serving one million individuals in need in 93 different programs…,” said a webpage dedicated to CAVE’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

“CAVE’s 50th anniversary celebration will allow alumni to reconnect with one another, commemorate CAVE’s accomplishments over the past 50 years, and learn more about what CAVE is doing now, and how you can stay connected to CAVE.

“We hope you’ll be able to join us for a weekend of activities October 14-16, 2016 during the Chico Experience Week. Bring your partner and your family or just bring yourself and celebrate the magic of 


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