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First-Year Students Volunteer in
Community Through New Program

Posted August 29, 2000

HOLLAND -- More than 100 new Hope College students will spend Saturday morning doing volunteer work in Holland through a new addition to the college's Orientation program.

Even more wanted to.

When she was planning the college's new "Time to Serve" volunteer program, staff member Diana Breclaw thought that she was being optimistic when she lined up enough projects for 120 incoming students--some 15 percent of the Class of 2004. Just in case she didn't get that many, she reasoned that she could always invite returning students as well.

She needn't have worried. A mere 30 minutes into the 3.5-hour sign-up process this past weekend, every slot was filled by one of Hope's incoming freshmen.

"I should have known," said Breclaw, who is director of student activities at Hope and staff coordinator for the college's New Student Orientation. "This place is incredible."

"After the first half hour, we had a waiting list," she said. "I have whole clusters [housing units of about 14 students] in Dykstra who want to go and I have no place for them to go."

Breclaw has been planning "Time to Serve" with two Hope seniors: Laura Evans of Livonia and Melissa Howe of Decatur, who were also the student coordinators for New Student Orientation. "To see the excitement on campus is breathtaking," Howe said. "Everywhere we turn there are more people wanting to sign up."

Working in teams of 15, the students will spend 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, at eight different sites in the Holland area. They'll work on projects ranging from cleaning the kitchen at Community Kitchen, to washing and waxing vans for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holland, to weeding and planting for Holland Area Beautiful.

Afterward, the students will come together to reflect on the experience and to learn how to become involved in community service in an on-going way.

According to Breclaw, the program has two goals: first, to help students appreciate the importance of giving of themselves, and, second, to give the members of the college's newest class an additional opportunity to get together.

"A college education is about more than getting your degree," Breclaw said. "We want students to see that they should be giving back because they were given a great privilege to be able to go to college."

"And most of our students are involved in service before they ever come to Hope," she said.

The service effort is also a follow-up to the college's four-day New Student Orientation program, which ran Friday-Monday, Aug. 25-28. Classes at Hope started on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

"I wanted to do something the second weekend they were here, both to give them an activity to look forward to and to give them a chance to meet different people than they met during the first weekend," Breclaw said.

Evans, for one, is anticipating that the program will be a success. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun for the students to help out in the community and meet their peers at the same time," she said.

Agencies interested in having a team of Hope student volunteers visit on Saturday, Sept. 2, should contact the college's Office of Student Development at (616) 395-7800.

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