April 25, 2014
Campus service shifts from quantity to qualityStudents, staff and alumni came together on Saturday, April 12, to continue the tradition of SU SERVE for the third year.
Assistant Director of Residence Life for Civic Engagement Jay Helmer said, "In a year were we celebrate SU traditions, SU SERVE is definitely one of ours."
This year 270 students participated by volunteering at 25 community organizations in and around the Selinsgrove area.
According to Helmer, the students collectively did over 800 hours of service on Saturday and the number of organizations served has been added to Susquehanna's goal of reaching out to 750 programs in need of service.
This year the Johnson Center for Civic Engagement has kept the tradition of service during the spring semester alive while deciding to focus more on how many people and organizations are being helped rather than how many hours have been logged.
"We shifted the focus from having a goal in terms of how many to what our impact is going to be," Helmer said. "Our goal was to have a positive impact."
While the JCCE has been hosting spring service opportunities for 10 years, SU SERVE has only recently been created as a university-wide initiative.
JCCE Service Scholar junior Danielle Huscher worked with other members of the JCCE to plan and run SU SERVE this year. She has been with the JCCE since her first year on campus when she worked as an intern. Huscher's passion for service has driven her to work with the JCCE and focus on a future of helping others.
Huscher said: "For my career, I want to do something with working with people and seeing that difference of having a stranger or volunteer is and how appreciative people are. It made sense from the very beginning to get involved. My number one passion is service."
Huscher explained the process involved with getting ready for SU SERVE. One of the first steps the team does is contact community organizations in the area to find out if they are willing to participate in SU SERVE. Once these service projects have been secured, each organization provides a minimum and maximum number of volunteers necessary for that day's projects. Typically, it ranges from five to 20 people, Huscher said.
Huscher and her peers then work to reach out to organizations on campus including Greek life, religious life and clubs to ask for volunteers to participate in SU SERVE. They then organize these groups and individuals who reached out and expressed interest in volunteering to match with how many volunteers are necessary at certain sites.
Helmer said: "This year we had a really great turnout. One of the challenges with SERVE is that we get people to sign up but don't always show up."
Alumni are a huge part in keeping the tradition of service alive even after graduation. According to Helmer, out of last year's 24,000 logged service hours, 18,000 of them came from alumni across the country. Many larger chapters of Susquehanna alumni set aside a Saturday in the spring to do a day of service.
Helmer said, "This is a way alumni give back to their communities and give back to their university in a way that is unique."
Huscher explained that the community partners were very appreciative of the service done on April 12. She said: "For me, the best part and most rewarding part is reading all the reviews from the community partners. Every evaluation that came back this year was phenomenal. They really do appreciate the work."
Huscher added that although the students who participate in SU SERVE don't always get to see the impact they have made, it does create a good tie between the community organizations and the students who participate and Susquehanna.
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