GOAL vol­un­teers Gabe Listro sings and Madeline Jeffes (flautist) make music with children at Head Start Preschool. Sofia Krusmark | Col­legian.

Stepping into the role of GOAL Program leader, I thought the hardest chal­lenge would be coor­di­nating with the com­munity and meeting all of the logis­tical needs of my program. But the most dif­ficult part of isn’t any­thing like that: I’s getting stu­dents to step away from clubs, sports, studies, and friends to vol­unteer for just one hour a week.

I entered the GOAL program with a crafted “sales pitch,” or my plea to come vol­unteer. Common responses were, “I have class or work right before that,” “Put me on the email list but I can’t commit to any­thing yet,” and some who said, “That’s my free time.”

When I fol­lowed up with other times stu­dents could vol­unteer with my program or other similar pro­grams, I received similar responses.

Vol­un­teering is not a pri­ority. I know that it’s dif­ficult to find balance in life at Hillsdale. It’s hard to juggle classes, work, and a social life, and vol­un­teering seems like it might push you over the edge. But we’re not con­stantly busy. I remember throughout the week the times when I scrolled through Facebook or Instagram mind­lessly, wasting 10 minutes here and there. Well, that time adds up.

Giving back to the town seems like some­thing that would come nat­u­rally to Hillsdale stu­dents. The classes we take teach us the origins of the freedoms we enjoy and the prin­ciples of small repub­lican gov­ernment, but we often ignore one of the key aspects that makes the repub­lican form of gov­ernment pos­sible: com­munity.

Com­munity is absolutely essential, if we truly believe that these prin­ciples enable human flour­ishing. Alexander de Toc­queville praised America because of its ability to form these benev­olent com­mu­nities that took care of those who could not take care of them­selves. This is some­thing we have lost.

Today we see gov­ernment pro­grams taking the place of the com­munity, but though we dis­agree with the idea of welfare pro­grams, we don’t return to what made less gov­ernment inter­vention pos­sible: Com­mu­nities that help those who can’t help them­selves.

At their best, Hillsdale’s GOAL pro­grams provide just that: a bridge to the com­munity, estab­lishing con­nec­tions and teaching us to rely on each other. The GOAL pro­grams help kids and adults with special needs, women in domestic vio­lence sit­u­a­tions, stu­dents strug­gling in school and at home, and many others in the Hillsdale com­munity.

As a vol­unteer, I have seen firsthand how gov­ernment welfare pro­grams hurt the people they are sup­posed to help. Vol­un­teering, however, pro­vides an alter­native while rein­forcing what we learn in class and enriching our time in college.

Vol­un­teering must be a pri­ority for stu­dents. It shouldn’t be dif­ficult to get stu­dents to vol­unteer one hour a week. If we truly believe in the prin­ciples of self-gov­ernment we need to do more than just talk about those prin­ciples, we need to act on them. There are 22 dif­ferent GOAL pro­grams; I’m sure one of them is for you.

Kaitlin Makuski is a senior studying American Studies.