GVSU students revamp retirement community store
Community Service Learning Center sponsors overnight trip
GVL / Hannah Mico. Kim Sloboda (freshman, left) and Chad Mersino (sophomore, right) sort through greeting cards in the mini mart at the Clark Retirement Community; they were part of the efforts to renovate parts of the home to make it more welcoming to its residents.
Residents at the Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids were excited for the grand opening of their remodeled mini-mart on Saturday. The restoration work was done courtesy of Grand Valley State University students volunteering on an overnight trip with the Community Service Learning Center.
“The Overnight Service Trip seemed like a great opportunity to connect students to this organization and increase awareness about the ways that we can and should give back to this population in our community,” said Jeff Mutch, CSLC coordinator.
Wade Burge, Clark Retirement Community volunteer coordinator, said that without the help of volunteers, it would have taken residents several weeks to complete the same tasks. Some of those tasks included building new shelves, stocking shelves in the store with new products that the residents requested, and rearranging the store so it was less cluttered.
“It’s so much more open now,” Burge said. “This gives those residents who can’t go out some new options. I know they’ll really appreciate it.”
The night before volunteering at Clark Retirement Community, GVSU students got together to decorate bags for the Kids Food Basket program, a nonprofit organization that helps hungry children in the Grand Rapids area. The volunteers then stayed the night at First Park Congregational Church.
“It gives them them the opportunity to come together, bond as a group and get to connect at a deeper level,” said Laura Murnen, CSLC coordinator of the trip.
In the morning, the group helped the church set up a breakfast for members of the church community. They then spent the afternoon at the retirement community working in the store and delivering Yellow Pages to the doorsteps of the senior citizens.
“The idea behind the overnight service trip is to provide a variety of opportunities to engage in service and address different community needs,” Mutch said. “Service trips like this also allow students to interact with seniors, which can be extremely rewarding for both parties.”
Throughout the year, the CSLC sponsors three overnight service trips, each focusing on a different issue. While any student can go on these trips, the first event was geared toward first-year students. On that particular trip, volunteers worked with Feeding America West Michigan to address issues of food insecurity in the region.
The last trip of the school year will occur on the weekend of March 21. Registration for the event will open later this month.