Students at Crandall University are changing the community for the better. With many organizations in the region with a need for volunteers, Crandall’s community practicum (CCP) gives students the opportunity to commit 12 hours of their time per semester to volunteering. Although 12 hours is the required minimum, students often go above and beyond this number, with the goal of assisting people in their community.
One of the main reasons that Crandall desires its students to be involved in the community is because it coincides with the university’s mission to incorporate faith into learning: “Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything we are and to love others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40),” said Cody Guitard, Assistant to the Senior Director of Student Life and Transformation. “As a distinctly Christian institution, we believe our CCP program provides our students with the opportunity to integrate these two great love commands into their Crandall experience: showing love for God by showing love to other people.”
The volunteering experience that students gain over the course of their studies allows them to apply the Bible’s teachings to the real world while they learn the skills associated with their placements. These benefits also extend beyond Crandall’s Christian foundation, as students are encouraged to connect with organizations based on their unique expertise and passions, to promote good citizenship and support of the community no matter where they are on their faith journey.
The CCP also has the potential to affect the community in a big way. “Students contribute around 17,000 hours in volunteering to different organizations,” said Dale Stairs, the Director of Student Life and Transformation. “We have students volunteering in all kinds of community organizations, and that makes a huge difference.” With so many students motivated to serve, over 55 local organizations are reached every year as a result of the time offered by students, and this does not include organizations where students volunteer when they return to their hometowns in the summer months. It only takes one student to positively influence an organization, and hundreds of students are contributing acts of service to do just that.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are ways in which students can volunteer: there are many organizations with new and specific needs as a result of limitations to in-person activities and many being moved online. Although the world runs a little differently, volunteers are still needed, and many new opportunities to serve have presented themselves over the course of this year.
Volunteer services can also happen within the university. Some students choose to volunteer their time at Crandall, and the influence is equally as powerful; the student is impacted as well as those being served. “My volunteer experiences have been incredibly fulfilling,” said Kennedy Steeves, a Sociology student at Crandall. “Last year, I had the privilege of being a tutor for international students in Crandall’s graduate programs. Through this experience, I met newcomers to Canada, made some great friends, and enhanced my tutoring skillset.”
Just like the organizations surrounding the institution, Crandall has a need for volunteers, and the student volunteers never cease to disappoint. They choose to help their fellow peers through tutoring, event planning, involvement in chapel services, and more, to create an environment at Crandall where God’s love and the students’ love for each other is clearly present.
Furthermore, these acts of service go beyond the students’ time at Crandall; it has a direct impact on their future employability, as they develop hands-on skills through their service while also showing employers their commitment to giving back to their community.
Whether the volunteer services take place on campus or off, this program allows students to grow in ways they otherwise would not have been able to within the confines of the classroom alone. This experience gives students the opportunity to learn and apply their faith, help those in need within their community, and develop skills and relationships that will go with them far beyond their time at University.