For students interested in offering support to people in the community or looking for further holistic insight into health professions, the Great Opportunities for Assistance and Leadership (GOAL) office has a new option.
Beginning this semester, junior Sarah Becker will lead the Community Health GOAL program, which has replaced the former Students Against Cancer GOAL program. Through this program, students can be connected with volunteer opportunities at Hillsdale High School, Hospice of Hillsdale County, Red Cross blood drives on campus, Hillsdale County Medical Care Facility, and Alpha Omega Care Center, among others.
“Sarah has a great combination of creativity and organization,” senior GOAL Program Director Lucile Townley said. “So far she has reached out to dental offices and clinics, arranged folders for miscarriage awareness, and she is going to help run the Red Cross blood drive this year.”
Townley said the GOAL office decided to phase out Students Against Cancer because it was no longer a good fit as a GOAL program, given that the Relay for Life was the only main volunteering opportunity. The GOAL office hired Becker to explore ways to incorporate more initiatives that focused on community outreach.
In addition to a busy summer researching through the LAUREATES program at the college and spending time at Gift of Love, a hospice for women with advanced cancer, where she was a live-in volunteer, Becker spent time during her summer break developing this plan into a mission.
“With this program, I wanted to give students an understanding of what it might look like to support health, whether that’s from a preventative health perspective or through encouraging people to take advantage of the resources in their community,” Becker said.
While Becker said she still highly values her time as a Hillsdale Hospital volunteer and plans to continue volunteering for a fifth semester, she aims to offer students another opportunity to meet community needs outside of a hospital setting.
“I’ve been very privileged to work with a lot of local leaders who really know their communities. It’s amazing to be able to put our hours into services that people have established,” Becker said. “You can’t say as a student that you automatically know what the needs of the community are.”
According to Becker, Leslie Keeling from Hospice of Hillsdale County has dedicated her time to providing hospice training for students in-person and online, helping fit student schedules.
Becker said developing these relationships with people in the community has helped her understand the needs of the community and create possibilities for volunteering.
Additionally, Student Success Worker Susan Postle, who was formerly house director at Benzing dormitory, develops ways to bring positive influences to Hillsdale High School students, often through peer-listening groups. Becker said Postle has been very helpful in bridging the community and the college by helping her find opportunities for college students to mentor students at Hillsdale High School through the holistic health education program.
Junior Mairead Cooper is a team leader for the students visiting Hillsdale High School to lead interactive classes about social and emotional health. She said her group specifically will have two focuses for its curriculum — family dynamics and healthy relationships.
“It’s a great way to connect the community and the college,” Cooper said. “Often, I feel as though people see them as two separate things, but through this program, we can bring them together.”
Cooper said her group has been spending time this semester developing activities for its plan so that these harder topics will be easier to understand, and the group plans to visit the school after fall break.
In order to introduce students to some of the new Community Health opportunities and other GOAL programs, Townley hosted a ‘Community Service 101’ event for a week in which the leaders of each GOAL program arranged carpools for brief volunteering sessions.
“It was really an opportunity to learn without commitment to one program,” Townley said. “As our GOAL Coordinator Michaela says, ‘It’s volunteering for millennials.’ ”
Townley mentioned that she has already seen success in the Community Health program.
“I’ve seen it take-off in how quickly we’ve already established a volunteer base,” Townley said.
Becker said there are already roughly 35 students volunteering, and she is anticipating a large student interest in the blood drive, which will have sign-ups in the Grewcock Student Union Nov. 5 – 8.
In order to get involved with the Community Health GOAL program in any capacity, email Sarah Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org.