A big part of life here at Alma is service. It is written right into our mission statement: Alma College’s mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.
We have several organizations that focus almost solely on service, as well as some that are multi-focused but include service. Service exists through so many organizations on campus in so many different ways, shapes and forms. Athletics teams participate in service and so do Greek organizations. Many students enjoy doing service as a part of a group, while others prefer to do it alone in their free time, or with a small group of friends.
I, personally, am a member of Alpha Phi Omega—a national service fraternity. Our current local chapter, Omicron Tau, has been on Alma’s campus since 2002. Through Alpha Phi Omega I have been involved in countless volunteer opportunities. Some of my favorites though are Kids Night Out, painting the Gratiot County senior center, and volunteering in classrooms in the Alma school district. I’ve also enjoyed making placemats for community café, creating door decorations for some of the residents of Masonic Pathways, and volunteering at the city of Alma Fall Festival each year.
Before coming to Alma, service was a part of my life. I have been volunteering in all aspects of my life since I was very young. I have spent time feeding the homeless and hungry on the streets of Detroit, doing volunteer babysitting jobs, and I was even a long-term volunteer with the Dearborn Animal Shelter, in my hometown.
I have always felt a strong urge to help. Upon coming to Alma, this need was only intensified. There were so many options to serve, and people here were taking part in incredible service opportunities —Alternative Breaks, P-Global trips (where they travel around the world doing service!) and the middle school mentorship program.
Being so involved with service has been an important part of my college experience thus far, and I know many other Scots will agree with me on that. Doing service is something that gives you such a good feeling—being able to know you are helping someone else with something they may not be able to do on their own or knowing you are taking some weight off someone’s shoulders—it is a feeling that is incomparable.
When I have a service event on my calendar, it is something I will forward to all week. Most recently I’ve been volunteering with a second-grade classroom at one of the local elementary schools. The connections I’ve made with these children in just a few short visits are incredible. They look forward to us coming, and tell us each and every time we arrive. They remember our names, even though we’re only there once or twice a month. We have been taking time to teach them what service is, with the hopes of getting them involved with service at a young age. We’ve had them help us create placemats for community café and many of these students were able to look for their artwork if they attended community café that particular week. They were able to see the direct impact and understand that they made something for someone else’s benefit.
The following month we made thank-you cards with the kids that they then gave to teachers in their school. We taught them the concept of giving thanks and giving back, and I firmly believe that at least a handful of them will carry this through their lives and give back at some point. Maybe they won’t remember the time with us, or the first times they did service, but maybe they will, and if they do, then I have served well by making a difference in a child’s life.
While I am at Alma, I am going to continue to take advantage of all the service opportunities presented to me. Though my time left in college is beginning to dwindle (Ok, kind of! One more full year left!), I know service will always be a part of my life in the future, thanks to the experiences I’ve had here at Alma.