Given the rich tradition of service at Calvin College through its students and alumni, the Alumni Association encourages its networks to consider service projects. Through students organizations such as KIDS (Kindling Intellectual Development in Students), which became SVS (Student Volunteer Services) and is now the Service-Learning Center (SLC), many students worked to help various people within the community. Because many alumni involve themselves in community service, the association board sees network service projects as wonderful vehicles for meaningful social interaction between Calvin alumni and friends and their communities.
Realizing that traditional service events exist within individual communities, the Association Board encourages network leaders to select the best time to schedule such an event for their alumni; however, if possible, we encourage them to consider September to coincide with Streetfest (an Association-sponsored day of first-year student service projects at Calvin) to promote the idea of an international alumni service month.
The purpose of these service projects comes from the heart of Calvin's world and life view to show the love of Jesus through Christian service in all aspect of life. Of course, these service projects would improve our local communities while also publicizing the association and Calvin. Events held in September would promote unity between the association and the new freshman class at Calvin. Such events might involve former KIDS, SVS, or SLC volunteers as well as introduce alumni to the concept of "Service learning" in Calvin's curriculum.
A network may choose any service event or project lasting a day or a weekend or longer—make an event as simple or complex as your network can tackle. Some examples of projects are:
- Social Service such as work in a Habitat for Humanity project, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, nursing home visitation, food pantry, hospital visitation, or United Way project
- Environmental Service such as cleanup on a roadway or waterway or park; state or national park reforestation or trail repair or animal protection or census; recycling education
- City beautification of neighborhood improvement such as rebuilding or repairing playground equipment; painting the home of an elderly, needy person; maintaining flower bed or planting trees along streets
- Educational service such as tutoring children or adults in schools or community workshops or reading to children
The network leaders would select the project, time, and plan the event with the Alumni Office available for consultation and/or help if a chapter does not exist in the area. Extra Streetfest t-shirts are available on a first-come, first-service basis while supplies last, or it may be possible to use the current t-shirt logo for your own duplication. The Alumni Office could help with some publicity. The leaders should report their success and recommendations to the association for improvement next year—send pictures or items for Spark. Also, the Service-Learning Center at Calvin might be able to help your network develop an idea for a service project. Network leaders may find that a service project requires more lead-time planning. Some items to consider include the following (again, Service-Learning Center can be helpful here):
- How to determine or find your project in your community—who could the leaders call?
- How far in advance should the project be scheduled?
- How to organize the group—assigning specific task leaders
- How to equip the group for the task (training, tools, supplies, refreshments)
- Publicity advice at the local level
- A packet from SLC to describe "service learning" at Calvin so that you can introduce this exciting "hands on" education to alumni as well as possible Calvin students