The Volunteer Community Service Center (VCSC), located between the Seeley G. Mudd Library and the Wriston turnaround, is open to students interested in volunteering on and off campus. Their mission is to encourage advocacy, service and learning by exposing students to local organizations in the community and create meaningful connections outside the Lawrence bubble. There are many subcategories of volunteerism such as child advocacy, elderly care, animal rights, homelessness and diversity. Every year the VCSC community highlights students dedicated to meaningful service and making a difference in the Lawrence and Appleton community. Here are a few volunteers The Lawrentian would like to highlight.
Sophomore Madi Gardner volunteers through Delta Gamma, Lambda Sigma, Habitat for Humanity and Rotaract Club every week. For Gardner, “making a difference in my community is important to me, especially knowing that I have the ability to do so and that others would benefit from it.” Gardner feels she is making the most out of her time and abilities when she sees the impact she has made on a person, cause or place.
“It can be tough for any Lawrentian to make time to volunteer, given the busy-bee nature of the campus. However, I have intentionally added service to my on-campus commitments and taken on leadership positions (like philanthropy and service chairs) that help hold me accountable for this commitment which is something I am very happy about!”
One of Gardner’s most positive experiences volunteering was last weekend when she participated in an event where residents of Brewster Village joined Delta Gamma and Phi Tau members for a formal dinner. “It was so fun to get dressed up and welcome the residents onto our campus. They don’t leave the Brewster Village facility that often and many of them expressed how nice of a treat it was!”
Gardner feels most passionate about housing and homelessness. “I wish that other people on this campus knew how big of a problem homelessness is in the Appleton community. I think that being on such a small campus where we have everything we need within a five-block radius creates a real disconnect between Lawrentians and their surroundings. This blinds us from a lot of the socio-economic issues that are affecting the greater community.”
Senior Courtney Schmidt has been volunteering for the Waupaca Special Olympics for the past 11 years. “My aunt is on the basketball, bowing, track and golf team. When I was young I started going with her to practices, and then I started to volunteer with them during tournaments. I enjoy it because there is never a dull moment with the athletes!” said Schmidt.
Sophomore Jordyn Plieseis volunteers her time with Black Youth Empowerment (BYE).
“I volunteer because I want to be a role model for students who might not have the most positive influences. I am able to educate students about what it means to be a black individual, while also having a good time and learning about myself as a person.”
Plieseis volunteers once a week, or when the program has special events. One thing Plieseis finds the most rewarding about volunteering at Black Youth Empowerment is seeing the progress of the students from being confused to finally “getting it” makes her feel good and reminds her why she volunteers with these kids.
When asked about what she wishes people understood about why she volunteers for black youth, Plieseis says it is because, “Power disparities are felt at very young ages, and it is important as a society that we make sure that our younger generations do not have to go through what we and our older generations went through with racism, discrimination and aggressions. Helping students of color embrace their identities early on is a great way to contribute to a more positive and equal community.”
The VCSC helps to facilitate any volunteer project an individual or on-campus organization brings forth. Through venues like the VCSC and Council on Community Services and Engagement (CCSE), there are many opportunities to continue to engage with the Appleton community. Students can log their volunteer hours and be informed of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities at Lawrence University’s GivePulse page. These are a few of the volunteers who work with the VCSC, but if there is someone you want to nominate for their hard work in volunteerism, contact the VCSC at their website, firstname.lastname@example.org.