Service Saturday offers volunteer opportunities

GVL / Archive
Participants Sara Niester (left) and Jessica MacVane (right)

GVL / Archive Participants Sara Niester (left) and Jessica MacVane (right)

gabriella patti

Grand Valley State University students looking to give back to the community should look no further than this upcoming Saturday.

Sept. 20 will be the second Service Saturday of the school year, giving students a fun and rewarding way to give back to the community,

Service Saturdays are a once-a-month service opportunity sponsored by Alternative Breaks and the Community Service Learning Center that introduce students to non-profit agencies in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

“Each month will be focused on a different issue in the community,” said Ryan Carrier, vice president of community impact. “We are looking for students who are passionate about service and who want to get involved in the community.”

During last month’s Service Saturday, students volunteered at Blanford Nature Center helping to remove an invasive species.

This Service Saturday is being held at Well House, which provides housing to the homeless. Carrier said that each house is tailored specifically to the resident and that the organization has a strong focus on sustainability.

“We are working in a community garden and doing fall prep work for them,” Carrier said.

Students will be focusing on the upkeep of the garden through weeding, watering, planting and harvesting.

Carrier said that this is a great opportunity for students to get involved. Now a senior, Carrier joined Alternative Breaks as a sophomore.

“It is really easy to get involved with,” Carrier said. “It’s a way to give back to the community and a great way to meet new people. You get to meet like-minded people.”

Carrier said that currently about 20 students are signed up for the upcoming Service Saturday. Students are encouraged to register for free online through the Community Service Learning Center.

Assistant Director of Student Life, Leadership and Service Initiatives Valerie Guzman, said that Service Saturdays are a great starting point for students who would like to become more involved in the community.

“It is four hours, not a big commitment,” Guzman said. “It’s a great entry way to get involved.”

In October, Service Saturday will coincide with Make a Difference Day, a huge campus tradition where at least 400 students go out to over 20 organizations.

Organizations include the food bank, Feeding America and Blanford Nature Center. Transportation, lunch and a t-shirt will be provided for students.

Guzman said that registration for this event will be open soon.

She encourages students looking to get involved to utilize the Community Service Learning Center and the resources that it provides for students. She encourages students to look on their website and to come in to talk to someone in person.

Guzman believes that service is an important part of the college experience.

“Going out and providing service can be a way to demonstrate being an active part of our community,” Guzman said. “For college students to take the time to do (service), it is a great thing for students to do. Whatever stage they are in during their college experience, volunteering and serving the community demonstrates that they understand that there is a greater world than just themselves.”

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