The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Community service a requirement for many organizations

 
Mississippi State University has over 40 student organizations with a required service component.
Cade Smith, director of student leadership and community engagement, oversees MSU service initiatives such as the Montgomery Leadership Program and the Day One Leadership community. Smith said serving in the community broadens volunteers’ outlooks.
“The thing about volunteering is individuals are taking several steps beyond whatever their world is,” Smith said. “They are working side by side with people who have different academic interests and different social backgrounds, and they’re doing meaningful work.”
The Maroon Volunteer Center is a MSU student-driven initiative, housed in South Hall, that engages in community service. According to Smith, MVC coordinates volunteer opportunities and conceptualizes projects to benefit community partners and enhance student experience.
Meggan Franks, program coordinator at MVC, said the center has seen an increase in student volunteers this school year.
“Our student database has doubled to just under 1,500 students. We will probably get about 15,000 hours of service through the volunteer center this year,” Franks said. “Our projects have doubled; we did about 40 last year (and) we are going to do about 80 this year.”
She said volunteers come from different majors and classifications. MVC uses weekly electronic newsletters to keep its database up to date on upcoming projects and opportunities to serve. Smith said the strength in MVC lies in matching up projects with volunteers.
“The most powerful thing (MVC) does is facilitate an organization that needs volunteers with students who have an itch to serve,” Smith said.
Service DAWGS is a program under the umbrella of MVC. April Heiselt, director of Service DAWGS, said the program’s goals for students are to make friends with one another, as well as faculty and staff and to assist a community partner in need. She said service DAWGS is different from other organizations.
“It’s very unique as a student group because you can flow in and flow out. If you’ve got a bunch of exams one week, you don’t have to do as much service as you might do if you had more down time,” Heiselt said.
Service DAWGS, which is an acronym for “Donating A Wonderful Gift of Service,” meets twice a month to coordinate events and connect with other members. She said she sees volunteering as a chance for students to bond with their surroundings.
“For me, I see community service as a great opportunity for students to not only get involved but to feel better about MSU, to feel that greater, stronger connection,” Heiselt said. “It’s a way to give back to the city.”
Demetre Holder, freshman mechanical engineering major, said he volunteered at Habitat for Humanity during Dawg Daze. He said watching the house being built was a special experience.
“When I went the first time we were putting up the walls. Each time I went back I saw another part of the house come up. I was like, ‘Wow, we’re actually building this. We worked on this house from the ground up.’ It was pretty cool,” Holder said.
He said community service also helped him meet new people.
“When I came here, I knew maybe three people and just through volunteering I met a lot of people who I still keep in touch with,” Holder said.
Franks said community service can serve as a tool to make friends and, ultimately, is a part of MSU’s institutional fabric.
“You’re going to meet new people and do things that you may not get the chance to do in your classes,” Franks said. “It’s a part of our vision, as well as MSU’s vision, to give students the opportunity to get engaged in their community.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Community service a requirement for many organizations