Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Volunteers find array of options

October 15, 2009

“Look at my dinosaur. Do you want to make a dinosaur?” said biochemistry freshman Wilson Nham, left, as he teaches, Austin Harken, 5, right, and other students how to make things out of Play-Doh on Thursday during Ms. Guerra’s kindergarten class at Bingham Elementary, 121 Bingham St., in Lansing. Nham volunteers at the class and at after school activities most of the week through the “America Reads” program.

Photo by Angeli Wright | The State News

Many MSU students are looking for a way to dominate their next interview and a way to make it through college without lacking that sense of personal accomplishment.

Volunteering is a fun, rewarding experience that you are sure never to forget, Into the Streets co-chair president Brigid Sweeney said, and there are many opportunities available to MSU students that want to get more involved.

MSU’s Into the Streets program, which introduces students to organizations and programs that need volunteers, hosts two main events, including next month’s Make a Difference Day, which will be held Nov. 14.

“I think all things learned in life are best learned by hands-on experience, and Into the Streets can help open up a ton of community service opportunities for everyone,” Sweeney said.

Last year, 15,221 students officially were recorded as volunteers with the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center (CSLCE).

With top requested volunteer positions being those placing students in areas such as Lansing Schools, Engineering and Construction, Sparrow Health System, Youth Mentoring, and Pre-School and Day Care, just to name a few, there are plenty of venues and options out there no matter what the individual is looking for.

This year, MSU’s CSLCE was one of 18 colleges and universities to be awarded the prestigious 2008 Presidential Award for General Community Service.

“We were recognized because we have the oldest continually operating student volunteer center of its kind in the country; we celebrated our 40th anniversary last year,” Director of CSLCE Karen McKnight Casey said.

The CSLCE also was recognized for the large range of people and colleges we work with, Casey said.

“We work with all students to find the right service options for them, and even if someone is an engineering major, but they’re passionate about children, we can help you fulfill that desire,” she said.

College of Education students are not only required to volunteer by some classes, but also are highly encouraged by teachers to volunteer at schools prior to student teaching later on, and volunteering in schools can be helpful for them, Casey said.

Opportunities exist for all majors, because the CSLCE offers volunteer options for virtually all interests.

“I’m hoping we can always continue to have volunteers in our classrooms because it allows us to give one-on-one attention to students,” Bingham Elementary School Principal Dr. Freya Rivers said.

“Just watching our students work with MSU volunteers, you can see the expression on their faces of how much they appreciate the volunteers.”

MSU students learn life-changing experiences through volunteering, human biology junior Jennifer Schlitzkus said. Schlitzkus volunteered at Ingham Regional Medical Center last year.

“An act of selflessness can be something small, but really impacts those that you are serving. It teaches you to think about others and how they will benefit from the service that you are providing.” Schlitzkus said.

Without volunteers, some programs would not be able to stick around, and students should consider that they’re not only helping someone else out but also learning more about what your professional ambitions are for the future, said Casey.

Lansing’s Capital Area Humane Society is one organization that relies on volunteers to maintain their business so they can continue to serve the community, CAHS program manager Stasi Bates said.

“We only have about 30 staff really, and hundreds of animals, so we rely on volunteers to make the animals here more at home by providing them with love and care, whether that be by brushing, petting or just sitting with the animals,” Bates said.

A popular volunteer option for MSU students at the CAHS is known as foster volunteer work, which lets students take sick animals home until they have a good bill of health and no longer are contagious to other animals, Bates said.

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MSU also is a member of the Michigan Campus Compact, which, through the Michigan Service Scholars program, provides a statewide $1,000 scholarship to students, offered by a grant from the Michigan Community Service Commission and the Corporation for National and Community Service, said Michigan Campus Compact Interim Executive Director Jackie Taylor.

Scholarships are limited per year, but some still are available.

“Students have to complete 300 hours of community service during one year at school, and it can also happen during breaks. MSU is one of our leading campuses and the students do a tremendous job,” Taylor said.

“MSU is a major part of the Michigan Campus Compact and is a major part of the 95,000 students that worked together to do about 9.5 million hours of service last year.”

Doing community service projects helps students connect with the community and assists students with their overall learning perspective, becoming a better citizen and builds a pathway of success, Taylor said.

“We can prove statistically through many studies that have been done in the past that engaged students who persist and are active in their communities graduate from high school and college at a higher rate than students who are not engaged,” Taylor said.

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