Dean College

  • International Volunteer Day: How Dean Gives Back

    Volunteer Day 2017

    International Volunteer Day is a day to not only celebrate volunteer work, but shine a light on the impact that volunteering efforts has at the local, national and international levels.

    Giving back to the local community is an important part of being a Dean College Bulldog. Dean College’s Office of Orientation & Community Service sponsors community projects both on- and off-campus every month in conjunction with the student-run community service group, Dean Community Outreach (DCO).

    Dean College is also proud to host an on-campus chapter of Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    This semester, our students, staff and faculty have participated in over 15 community service projects ranging from stocking shelves at the local food pantry, collecting leftover Halloween candy to send to our troops, hosting a giving tree, and even helping to build a playground!

    Kaili Kellam (DCO President and Community Service Chair for NSLS), Courtney Holden (DCO Vice President) and Tori Swillum (President of Best Buddies) gave us some insight on why community service and volunteer work is important to them and the community.

    Q: What community service projects have you been a part of at Dean?

    Kaili: I have been involved with community service projects at Dean College since my freshman year. Some of the different service projects I have volunteered for are: Blood Drives, Franklin Food Pantry, Nason Street Park Cleanup, Candy for the Troops, Cards for the Troops, Meals on Wheels, The Giving Tree, Random Acts of Kindness Week, The Sugar Shoppe, The Children Center, Red Kettle Bell Ringing, Magnolia Heights and Draper Place.

    Courtney: I have been a part of almost all community service projects at Dean. Most recently, I have painted reusable bags to put in donated canned food for the Franklin Food Pantry and I organized the Giving Tree.

    Tori: As a sophomore, I haven't had the opportunity to participate in a ton of community service projects yet however I have done the giving tree both years of schooling so far. I also manned a table for the blood drive and other community service events. 

    Q: Why did you decide to join DCO?

    Kaili: Since I am passionate about giving back to the community and helping those who are in need, I thought joining DCO would be a great fit for me. I wanted to get involved with more community service projects and that is why I originally joined the club. Then, I decided to go for the Vice President position last year which made me want to go for the President position this year. As the current President of DCO, I love what the club has become and has done for the Dean and Franklin Community.

    Courtney: I work at a nonprofit organization in my hometown and always volunteer at home, therefore joining a community service club on campus was a natural instinct for me. I love giving back. Being on the e-board allows me to give more of time and really make an effect on those less fortunate than I.

    Q: Why did you decide to join Best Buddies?

    Tori: I joined Best Buddies because I was part of my chapter in high school and was also my chapters president there. It is important to me to be a part of best buddies because my twin brother has down syndrome and his struggle with finding friends has affected me personally and I want to be sure everyone has an opportunity to create friendships. 

    Q: What is your favorite part about volunteering?

    Kaili: Overall, my favorite part about volunteering is being able to make a difference and share my experiences with others. From sharing my experiences, I hope it encourages others to get involved and give back.

    Courtney: My favorite part about volunteering is knowing that what I am doing helps others and that what I am doing means a lot. I am physically making an impact on a family. Through volunteering I feel as if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. It feels good and it feels right.

    Tori: I don't like to call my work with Best Buddies volunteering and I really don't like calling it community service either. The reason for this is because I don't believe being with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is community service, I do it to create friendships and opportunities for people who may not be able to do so for themselves. If I would have to say why I like "volunteering" I would say seeing the joy on the students faces while hanging out with each other is my favorite part. 

    Q: What effects have you seen on our local community as a result of your service projects?

    Kaili: As a result of the service projects I have done, I notice that we leave a lasting effect on our local community. Being able to help others realize that someone cares has helped the community stay in a positive, happy, and giving state of mind. 

    Courtney: In early November, DCO and NSLS went to Atria Draper, a senior living community, for crafts night. They loved every second of it. They loved talking to us, knowing what school was like, and most importantly creating a wreath for the wreath holidays. They were smiling, laughing, and genuinely having a good time. They want us to come back more often and have more programs with the residents. That is one of the many effects DCO has on the community. 

    Tori: I believe there has been many personal impacts for the students involved in Best Buddies. I also think it is a positive thing to have students with a disability on campus so they can be a more active part of society.

    If you are interested in being a part of a community service project, please reach out to Jennifer Polimer, Director of Orientation, Community Service & Special Projects at jpolimer@dean.edu or 508-541-1596.

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