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New program introduced to facilitate transportation for off-campus volunteers

By Mackenzie Rech

Earlier this term, the Council on Community Service and Engagement (CCSE) implemented a new program titled Service Shuttle that seeks to facilitate transportation for students who wish to engage in off campus volunteer opportunities on Saturdays.

CCSE is currently a standing committee under the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) that works to promote volunteerism on the Lawrence campus. The issue was brought to CCSE by members of the community who enjoyed volunteering off campus, but faced difficulties in finding transportation. Junior Greta Schmitt, the chair of CCSE, describes the main goal of this new initiative.

“We saw there was a blanket need of volunteer groups on the issue of transportation. We came up with the idea of a service shuttle that would leave on Saturdays and take people around the Appleton area to service sites,” Schmitt said.

Sophomore Megan Occhino currently works at the Volunteer Center as the Volunteer Coordinator for Brewster Village. Occhino outlines the aims of the program for the volunteer center.

“It’s been really beneficial for my personal goals because people can get to Brewster to volunteer. As a volunteer center, the whole goal of it was to get students to want to volunteer more, to make it easier for them. And hopefully an ultimate goal is maybe to see it running more than just on Saturdays,” Occhino said.

The service shuttle currently runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and takes students to Riverview Gardens, Brewster Village and the Saving Paws Animal Shelter, but is available for other student groups upon request.  Although the program is in its early developing stages, it has been successful thus far and CCSE has hopes to for this program to expand further.

“We’re hoping to extend the hours of it as it gains popularity so it will go all Saturday and reach out to more locations. If a student wants to go somewhere else, we will take them there too,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt also described a specific way they hope to engage more student groups.

“What’s new and exciting is that we’re going to be doing a Google document. There’s going to be a link to a Google Doc and there’s going to be slots that you and your group can sign up. This will gauge more who’s using it when,” said Schmitt.

Senior Tara Jensen and freshman Neal Bauer also expressed their thoughts about the new program.

“As someone who has been a leader of a student group before, I can definitely say that the cost and hassle of renting a van is one of the major barriers to volunteering. I think that this is going to open a lot of doors for people who might think that it’s too much work,” said Jensen.

“I definitely support the service shuttle. I think it’d be a really convenient way of getting students engaged,” said Bauer.