Over the last six months, many Michiganders experienced what it’s like to live in quarantine or isolation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Staying in Place orders. Since moving back to campus, GVSU students who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 are finding quarantining on campus to be a lot harder than at home.
In the hopes of making life in quarantine and isolation brighter for students, the Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies Department’s Academic Program Coordinator, Lynnette Keen, teamed up with Housing and Residence Life and the Dean of Student’s Care Team to create care packages for students on and off-campus.
Keen said that the We Care Project was inspired by a conversation between her and another faculty member.
“The ‘We Care’ package initiative started because the department chair, Melanie Shell-Weis, and I were having a conversation, and she was sharing that a couple of her students had let her know they were in isolation or quarantine,” Keen said. “We both shared with each other what that we felt like that would be like for us if we were a student and we were both like I would be so sad. So we got off the phone and kind of went on with our lives and then she called me back and I’m like, ‘You know, I can’t stop thinking about your students. And we need to give them something. What can we give them?’”
Keen said that the goal of the We Care Project is to provide students with fun snacks, activities and decorations to help them feel more at home and pass time and let them know that GVSU cares about them and what they are going through.
“We know the students receiving these care packages appreciate knowing faculty and staff are thinking of them and that the care we are sending is more than items in a box,“ said Keen.
The Department of Housing and Residence Life has also gotten involved with the project and has begun including the packages to students in quarantine along with the food and laundry services they are providing, according to Robert Zinger, COVID response coordinator for on-campus students.
“I think they recognized that in addition to nutritional needs, their laptops and their books, nobody’s really prepared to spend up to 14 days alone just watching Netflix,” Zinger said. “They prepared these kits which address some of the things that they want like snacks instead of just the meals, puzzles and coloring books. It’s really nice way to meet some of the other needs but also for students to know that faculty at Grand Valley also care about them as having them in class.”
Sophomore Rayna Davis spent quarantine at home after testing positive. Davis said that she received a care package when she returned to GVSU.
“It was so nice and really made my day,” said Davis.
Zinger said that there is another representative from the Division of Student affairs working to prepare and deliver the care packages to students off and near campus as well.
Keen said that as soon as she put the word out to her coworkers in IRIS and Brooks College, volunteers and donations poured in. Keen said in addition to doing something nice for students, the project has helped faculty members as well.
“What we immediately heard from faculty was this sense of relief and gratitude,” Keen said. “You could just sense that piece that was missing, that service piece where we need to give to others when things are hard. And so it was we provided this way to connect with our students.”