Lending a helping hand: Students ‘Spring into Service’ around Marquette

Scott Viau

There are many ways students can help around their community, and NMU’s Volunteer Center is one of them. With places like Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA participating in the Spring into Service event, there’s a spot for everyone to volunteer.

Senior ecology major Stephanie Rockwood works at the Volunteer Center and is helping to put on the event. Rockwood is looking for volunteers to complete different projects around Marquette.

“A lot of the projects will be working with local nonprofits,” Rockwood said. “They’ll also be doing some raking projects like we do with Make a Difference Day.”

Among the efforts, people are needed for are outside cleanup projects, envelope stuffing and office work, in addition to other things.

Although the deadline for registering for an event technically ended Wednesday, April 7, the Volunteer Center will accept registration applications until Friday, April 9. Unless students specify a certain interest, they will be placed with a random organization.

Aside from Spring into Service, the Volunteer Center will also be organizing happenings around campus.

“We have a blood drive coming up on Tuesday, April 13 and a Spring Needs Drive during the last weeks of the semester,” Rockwood said. “Any clothing or small household items that people are looking to get rid of (will be accepted).”

The Bay Cliff Health Camp will be participating in the event and is looking for volunteers to help with the grounds work. Executive director Tim Bennett said he’s excited about the event and is wishing for a large turnout.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have a huge group of kids,” Bennett said. “We’ve got tons of stuff for them to do.

Bay Cliff operates as a children’s therapy and wellness center camp. The center is home to 180 children during the summer. The staff of around 125 people takes care of the kids and helps them learn activities and develop independence.

“It’s a really, really neat program. In May, we have all kinds of programs we run for school kids and outdoor education and programs for autistic children,” Bennett said.

Bennett also said there are plenty of things for volunteers to do if they decide to help out at Bay Cliff.

“We’ve got a lot of brush to get out, and we’ve got a lot of painting jobs and fences to scrape and paint,” Bennett said. “We even have some construction things to do if there happen to be some kids who are in the construction program.”

Bennett said he hopes to have between 50 and 100 volunteers, and the campus will provide lunch for those who come out to the site.

“We’re going to cook up a big pot of chili, and we’ll put a nice lunch out for the kids,” Bennett said.

Bennett also that he’s grateful the camp has been invited to be a part of Spring into Service.

“Students (helping) us can make a big difference in our ability to make (the) grounds ready for summer,” Bennett said.

In addition to working with NMU’s volunteer center, Bay Cliff is also part of the Student Leadership Fellowship Program.

“It’s a two- or three-year program that teaches them leadership skills and community service,” Bennett said. “It’s a wonderful, nationally acclaimed program. We have quite a few college students that work for us in the summer and many of them are in that program.”

Jane Iery is the volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. This is their second year participating in the event.

“We had two groups that came out (last year) because there were so many people that signed up to work with Habitat,” Iery said. “This year what we’re going to have the groups doing is chipping wood and clearing branches.”

According to Iery, students will be able to gain experience through their efforts in doing other things than they are used to.

“We get a lot of Northern students volunteering through Habitat. They’re going to have a lot of fun,” Iery said.

Spring into Service takes place on Saturday, April 10.