April 3rd, 2012
Grand Rapids Community College occupies 11 city blocks in downtown Grand Rapids – but its impact extends far beyond that.
As part of its Department of Experiential Learning, the college offers a Service Learning program that connects course material with identified needs in the community. The Department also teams with Lansing-based ePIFanyNow to conduct an annual community service event called “Pass it Forward.”
On a cold and snowy February 24, 2012, more than 100 GRCC students, faculty and guests gathered in small teams before heading out to lend a hand at 20 non-profit community organizations. Projects ranged from sorting food for a food bank and working one-on-one with residents of a local senior center to helping out at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, a home-away-from-home for adult cancer patients and their caregivers.
“This is the third year for Pass it Forward,” says Leah Kicinski, an AmeriCorps*VISTA member who helped organize this year’s event. “The goal is to create a chain of good deeds that encourages others to continue the actions.”
Kicinski says students always return from their adventures “enthused, excited and full of stories” they share at a group lunch wrapping up the event. “The idea is to relate what they learned from this experience back to their course work.”
One student said, “Learning is not something that is only found in the classroom, but is extended to every situation in our lives. Today we learned the value of teamwork – and the joy that comes from giving to help others who are in need.”
Not only does Pass it Forward help inspire others to give, it seeks to instill a lifetime habit of giving. That’s a lesson we can all learn!