GVSU receives national award for community service work

By Drew Schertzer | 11/6/16 11:03pm

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GVL/Sara Carte - Grand Valley students help build Cherry Street Park’s new ice rink for the Martin Luther King community service projects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.

by Sara Carte / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University has recently been added to the list of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to promoting exceptional community service.

This national award was presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Sara Carte

GVL/Sara Carte - Grand Valley students help build Cherry Street Park’s new ice rink for the Martin Luther King community service projects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.

Ruth Stegeman, assistant dean and director of the office for community engagement at GVSU said students learn through working with the community.

“They work toward helping the community, but the community has a lot of complex places," Stegeman said. "The challenges students face there are also complex, only working together can they solve them."

The office for community engagement focuses on learning, teaching and research. Stegeman said this gives students the most opportunity for success in working with the community.

“Many students volunteer, (and) that’s important, but their impact is even more important," she said. "Are we making a difference? That is aligning our goals here.”

Nic Scobey, a graduate assistant at the office agreed. He said to do this, students need to be engaged in their work before, during, and after it is done. This is why there is a constant want for improvement in the offices dealing with community service, Stegeman said.

Scobey touched on what he hopes they can achieve in the future since the office has only been around for four years.

“In the future we hope to have more staff, better partnerships and to improve,” Scobey said.

He is excited with how the office is growing each year.

“We want students to move beyond just helping the community, and to move toward understanding our civic duty," said Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for student life at GVSU. "Students should work with partnered organizations to challenge the injustices in society.”

In working together pairing faculty and students to organizations, both offices hope to better the community. When they act as this link, the community as a whole improves, Scobey said. This working together with organizations is why GVSU received a national honor for community service.

The type of work that students and faculty can do to get involved at GVSU varies widely. For example, they can participate in one engagement day of service or many days throughout a year. They also can help people in other countries as well, Baker-Boosamra said.

Make a Difference Day was a huge community service event Saturday, Oct. 22. During this event, over 350 students assisted organizations locally throughout Allendale and Grand Rapids.

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