Community Outreach Week promotes ‘Laker Effect’

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Alternative Breaks

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Alternative Breaks

Ashlyn Korienek

Whether volunteering alone or as part of a group, giving back to the community is something Grand Valley State University prides as part of its “Laker Effect.” With this in mind, Community Outreach Week (COW) was started to unite GVSU students around the globe.

In full-swing since 2008, this event starts Saturday, March 18, while alumni, current students, faculty and staff members are invited to join a project or create their own. The week is a coordinated between the GVSU Alumni Association, the Community Service Learning Center and sponsored by the Office of Student Life.

Rachael Zaborowski, civic engagement graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life, said COW is an award-winning week of service allowing Lakers to network and support their local communities.

“Community Outreach Week is a powerful example of the Grand Valley ‘Laker Effect’ and our community’s collective impact on individual students, West Michigan, our state and beyond,” she said. “We are a force for positive change.”

From volunteering at a local animal shelter to hosting a donation drive for a local food pantry, participants are encouraged to go above and beyond and create an impact.

“All different kinds of events all around the globe happen this week,” said Krashawn McElveen, alumni relations assistant. “A few examples include neighborhood clean ups, food pantry sorting, preparing meals for families in need to even playing Wii bowling with seniors.”

At the end of the week, a COW trophy is awarded to the group with the most volunteers at its project. In 2016, the winner was the Alumni Association Board.

Since 2013, the GVSU Young Alumni Council and the Alumni Association Board of Directors faced off to achieve the most participation during the week. Last year, the Alumni Association Board took first place.

Additional prizes are handed out to those with the best group or individual photograph showing off service efforts.

“My favorite part will be seeing all the hours logged on Service Tracker to see the impact Lakers have on communities across the nation,” Zaborowski said.

No matter how small the effort, all members of the community are welcome to join the week. Students can sign up for events online, while alumni can join exclusive projects as well.

“It’s a great way to give back to your home community and to connect with other alumni, students and friends through service,” McElveen said. “Giving back is a key part of being a Laker.”

Those interested in participating can join or register a service event online at Spaces are limited and registration is encouraged at least three days in advance to the project date. To qualify as a COW service project, it must be within Saturday, March 18, and Saturday, March 25.

Participants are encouraged to share photos during their experience by tagging #GVcow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to enter the contest. The contest will end Saturday, April 1.

To sign up for closed projects or find out more about Community Outreach Week, contact [email protected] or call (616) 331-3590. Donations can be made at