Community Outreach Week taking place at GVSU
What does it mean to be a Laker for a Lifetime? There are many ways to live out this phrase at Grand Valley State University, but one of the annual ways to do it is by participating in Community Outreach Week.
“Community Outreach Week is an annual week of service where we encourage Lakers to give back to their communities in the name of Grand Valley. It’s a powerful example of the Grand Valley Laker Effect,” said Kyle Barnhart, Alumni Relations assistant and Community Outreach Week coordinator. “This idea that we educate students to shape the world around them and give back, and this is one of the key ways we do that.”
Community Outreach Week goes from Saturday, March 24, to Saturday, March 31. The purpose of the week is to get GVSU students, staff and alumni engaged with the community.
“The general overview is it’s a week of service opportunities that’s co-sponsored by the Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) and Alumni Relations,” said Liz Collver, assistant director for student life and civic engagement. “Our purpose in doing it is to just encourage all Grand Valley-affiliated individuals—so students, faculty, staff, alumni—to just think about how they might be able to give back to their community."
The goal of Community Outreach Week this year is to increase participation among alumni and students.
“We have a lot of projects in the area that are catering to local alumni, and we work closely with the Community Service Learning Center and the Office of Student Life to engage students,” Barnhart said. “We also have alumni clubs located in cities across the country, so we have 10 projects that are happening elsewhere in the United States.”
GVSU officials believe it's important for GVSU students to give back by participating in Community Outreach Week because it’s a way of showing that they’re active members of the community, and it also provides them with an opportunity to help find and solve community problems.
“Engaging with the community is a great way to show that you yourself feel part of that community. It’s a good way to show that you feel like you belong,” Collver said. “Giving back in this way through volunteering helps you see root issues and causes of problems that we have in society, or ways that you can be part of working towards solutions. It’s something that everyone should spend some time doing and thinking about.”
Giving back during Community Outreach Week can also be important because of the many benefits of volunteering and giving back to the community.
“Personal benefits are a sense of satisfaction that you’ve done something good," Barnhart said. "A lot of employers like to see that their applicants are engaged in the community and that they have volunteer service, and it’s a strong tradition at Grand Valley of giving back to the community."
The programs most geared toward student participation are the ones put on by the CSLC and the Young Alumni Council. The CSLC projects include transportation for students but require advanced sign-ups. The sign-up form is available at www.gvsu.edu/cow/cslc.
The projects put on by the Young Alumni Council are happening on GVSU’s campus. Advanced sign-up is requested, but walk-ins are welcome as well. The sign-up form for these projects is available at www.gvsu.edu/cow/lakerconnections.
Those interested in taking part in any of the Community Outreach Week projects should visit the Community Outreach Week website as soon as possible to pre-register for any events they’re interested in. Some projects have a limited number of openings and are continuously filling up.