The GOAL program is hiring seven new leaders for volunteer organizations and a new coordinator for the fall 2014 semester. Senior Travis Cook, GOAL director, will be replaced by current coordinator sophomore Jackie Frenkel.
“So far we’ve had 30 to 35 applications,” Cook said. “We typically conduct 30 to 40 interviews every spring, which takes up a lot of time. It’s 30minute interviews, so we need to coordinate a schedule to fit all five of the GOAL committee, plus the person we’re interviewing.”
Despite the work, Cook said he enjoys the opportunity to meet students passionate about getting involved in the Hillsdale community.
“I really enjoy the hiring process. I continue to be blown away by the strength of the freshman classes as they come in,” Cook said.
Cook was hired as GOAL coordinator in his freshman year, and said GOAL encourages freshmen to apply for leadership positions in the GOAL volunteer organizations so they can serve consistently during the rest of their time at college.
“We like the continuity that comes with having a freshman who can serve us three years, but we do not turn down sophomores and juniors who are applying,” Cook said. “It is exciting and encouraging to see how many freshmen end up being interested in GOAL leadership.”
Junior Sam Ryskamp is leader of the Lochaven program, which was revamped at the beginning of the 2013 fall semester. The program’s mission is to provide healthy friendships and mentorships to students at an alternative high school. The students are sixth to 12th graders unable to attend their local school due to behavioral difficulties or juvenile detention.
One of Ryskamp’s concerns is that students tend to become selfabsorbed and stuck in the “college bubble” while at Hillsdale. While studies are important, Ryskamp believes volunteering prepares students to make a difference and change the world.
“When you come to college, it’s all about you and your future,” Ryskamp said. “You’re preparing yourself for some point down the road when you’re going to change the world and make a difference. It’s really easy to become selfabsorbed, like all my time is my time.”
When students are so consumed by academics and pursuing career goals, Ryskamp says they can lose sight of all the wonderful opportunities right on their doorstep in the city of Hillsdale. “When you’re so focused on serving in the future you forget that there’s people around you, right
here, right now, that God put around you to serve,” Ryskamp said. “There’s a struggling community around us, and we have 1,400 highly motivated, intelligent, interested, caring people at this college who have the resources to help and the interest in helping, but because they’re so engrossed in what they’re doing right now they forget about it.”
Frenkel agrees with Ryskamp and hopes GOAL will help more students see the immeasurable value of reaching out to one’s community and building relationships outside the college.
“We have a responsibility in addition to an opportunity to bless and serve our community,” Frenkel said. “GOAL has a really cool opportunity to make volunteering a part of the Hillsdale culture, the same way leaving your stuff in the library is a part of the Hillsdale culture. I think that unity is powerful.”
But volunteering does more than impact the Hillsdale community. Relationships go both ways — when students enter the lives of others, students change them and are changed by them.
“The more I have been able to get involved in the community and get to know people from the community, I have been changed,” Frenkel said. “In just as great a way I hope I’m impacting and causing change for them.”
GOAL is already taking steps to encourage students to become more involved. Coming up later this semester, Cook says GOAL is planning a campuswide volunteer opportunity.
“It’s open to anyone who is interested in helping out, and it’ll be a weeklong initiative,” Cook said. The success of Lochaven is one example of how GOAL is helping to foster student volunteerism and growth in the Hillsdale community.
“At the very first meeting of the year, we had a total of three volunteers,” Ryskamp said. “At our midyear meeting at the beginning of this semester, we had 15, and now we have 25. I think that shows that on Hillsdale’s campus there’s a resurgence of interest in helping out in the community, which is a positive change that I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Ultimately, Ryskamp says, the success of Lochaven and the GOAL program isn’t a result of
mere human achievement.
“God’s in control. If God wants to grow the program, then He will,” Ryskamp said. “If He didn’t want to grow the program then it wouldn’t be growing. It’s not really my program, it’s His.”