Samaritan college students contribute to community

By Rachel Cross | 11/14/12 4:46pm

Oftentimes it may be difficult for college students to find time to be involved in service and volunteer work because of their busy schedules. Despite full schedules made up of classes and work, three individuals at Grand Valley State University find the time to actively participate in different volunteer opportunities on campus and in the community of Grand Rapids.

Michele Lutke, a graduate student working on her masters’ in social work, has been involved in many different volunteer opportunities as an undergrad and grad. She has volunteered with Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, His House Christian Fellowship, Hunger and Homelessness of GVSU, and Pals Student Mentors.

“I have always loved volunteering and helping those who are less fortunate,” Lutke said. “I would volunteer often at the Head Start my mom worked at. I loved playing with kids. I went on my first mission trip with my church when I was 14. When I got to college it was obvious to me that I wanted to join as many service organizations that I could handle.”

Lutke said that her favorite volunteer opportunity has been with Pals Student Mentors and that she was in the club for two years. She mentored the same young girl both years until she moved to Ionia.

“I still talk to her regularly and go spend the day with her when I get the chance,” Lutke said. “Her birthday is this weekend and I plan to surprise her by showing up at her party. This was my favorite because I was able to build a close and trusting relationship with her over those two years and still to this day. It was fun to see how the relationship changed over the years as we got to know each other better.”

Currently, Lutke has been doing an internship at Wedgwood Christian Services where she is doing family case management. She said that as an undergrad, she balanced school, work, and volunteering by writing in her planner, and that she had to schedule time to do homework around all of her activities and stick to it.

Sheri Anderson, a junior at GVSU majoring in hospitality and tourism management, is also involved in many different volunteer opportunities, ranging from the American Cancer Society, Family Promise of Grand Rapids, and the YWCA of Grand Rapids. She is also involved in organizations on campus, including the community councils, Sigma Alpha Lambda, Contemporary Ceramics Association, Housing, and the Hospitality and Tourism Management club.

“I started volunteering as a requirement back in high school for the National Honor’s Society, and I like the way it put smiles on peoples’ faces,” Anderson said.

Haley McClean, junior at GVSU majoring in public administration, has been involved in Hunger and Homelessness of GVSU, and Make a Wish Foundation. Make a Wish Foundation helps raise money to help kids with cancer.

Anderson also works as a resident assistant in freshman housing and said that she balances volunteering, school and work by practicing good time management skills.

McClean said that she balances school and volunteering by participating in events on the weekends, and that most clubs try to work around student’s schedules.

She said that her favorite part of volunteering is making connections with people, and that this weekend she plans on walking in the Christmas parade for Gilda’s club, which provides support to families that have struggled with cancer.

To obtain more information on volunteer opportunities on GVSU’s campus, call the Office of Student Life directly at (616) 331-2345.

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