Each week, a group of Rasmussen College students meet at the Lake Elmo/Woodbury campus – not to study or work on a class project (they already do that), but rather to brainstorm ways to give back to their community. They call themselves the Lake Elmo/Woodbury Volunteer Club, and that’s exactly what they do. They volunteer their time, whether it’s going out in the community and participating in service projects or collecting donations for people in need.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer,” said Brian Sager, Rasmussen College School of Education student and one of the founding members of the LE/W Volunteer Club. “Last summer, I saw a flyer on campus asking for students to join this new volunteer club, and I thought ‘that’s perfect.’”
Sager wasn’t alone. Jessica Voreis and Kaite Lodge were also looking for ways to give back to their community. Together, Sager, Voreis and Lodge launched the LE/W Volunteer Club in July and with their leadership, the club has already successfully completed four volunteer projects within just a few months.
“Their dedication and focus is impressive,” said Jeremy Barthels, Rasmussen College School of Health Sciences Instructor. “The club is strong because of them.”
Barthels is one of the club’s mentors. He helps the student volunteers market and advertise their service projects, as well as come up with volunteer opportunities when needed. With the help of the Lake Elmo/Woodbury Teaching and Learning Committee, Barthels came up with the idea for a student-led volunteer club on campus. So far, about five students have joined the club.
“I personally try to do as much volunteer work as I can,” said Barthels. “I work part time as a chiropractor and often provide free or reduced services. I wanted to bring that volunteerism to our campus.”
There are many benefits to volunteering. Barthels says the student volunteers are getting experience organizing and leading a club, as well as boosting their resume. Here are some other benefits of volunteering from the United Way.
- Make important networking contacts
- Learn or develop skills
- Teach your skills to others
- Gain work experience
- Build self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improve your health
- Meet new people
- Feel needed and valued
- Express gratitude for help you may have received in the past from an organization
- Communicate to others that you are ambitious, enthusiastic and care about the community
- Make a difference in someone’s life
That last bullet is why Lodge says she loves volunteering the most. It’s the reason she helped clean up the Lake Elmo Park Reserve – the volunteer club’s first service project. She also helped spearhead a food drive on campus for the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf in Woodbury, Minn. In the end, the volunteer club collected more than 270 food items just in time for Thanksgiving.
“It feels really good knowing dozens of families in our community had food for Thanksgiving,” said Lodge. “It’s something many of us take for granted. The employees’ faces at CCEFS lit up when we walked in with all that food.”
“For me, it was a very eye-opening experience,” said Voreis. “I had no idea so many families were in need of food.”
Sager says he loved volunteering at Zoo Boo, a Halloween Festival fundraiser for the Como Zoo Park and Conservatory in St. Paul. He was among four students with the LE/W Volunteer Club who participated in the festival.
“It’s by far my favorite service project so far,” said Sager. “We got to dress up and interact with the children and play make-believe. It was a lot of fun.”
The LE/W Volunteer Club finished up the quarter with a Toy Drive on campus for Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Next quarter, they plan on volunteering with the United Way. Sager says all of their projects are family-friendly, so they encourage volunteers to bring along family and friends.
Are you inspired to get involved in your community? The LE/W Volunteer Club is always looking for new members. You can also make a donation or start a volunteer club on your own campus. Sager, Voreis and Lodge are proof it only takes a few people to make a big difference.
“There are people less fortunate than you,” said Sager. “It doesn’t take a special person to make a difference. Anyone can make a difference. You just need to take the time to make a difference.”
To learn more about the LE/W Volunteer Club and support their projects, visit their Facebook page.