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Com­munity Health program leader Sarah Becker holding cards written by Hillsdale College stu­dents for fam­ilies affected by mis­car­riages. Becker | Courtesy

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 sbecker@hillsdale.edu.