Adventist Journal Online | 700 students, faculty and staff join forces for Andrews University Change Day
The fifth annual Day of Service provides volunteers and assists ministries in 36 locations.
SSeptember 16, 2021 marked the fifth day of the changeover at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States. Each year, in accordance with its mission to âSeek knowledge. Affirm faith. Changing the World â- the university looked for new ways to serve the surrounding community.
This year, the project organizers focused on four service learning objectives: advocacy, direct service, indirect service, and research-based service. Participants learned a variety of ways to engage with their community, whether they speak directly on behalf of others and come face-to-face with individuals, animals and environments, or whether they fundraise and find more abstract solutions.
Change Day 2021 involved 36 sites and over 700 volunteer participants for organizations ranging from Habitat for Humanity to the Berrien County Humane Society, Neighbor 2 Neighbor, Operation Christmas Child, Pine Ridge Assisted Living, Paris’ Purse and many more. others. Once again, classes were canceled for the duration of the Change Day projects, providing an opportunity for all students who wished to get involved. While each project offers a different service experience, each individual has had the chance to make a significant change.
Zoe Shiu, a psychology major, volunteered with a group at the Niles YMCA, helping to spread mulch in the plant dividers in the parking lot. She said she had met a lot of new people, all of whom were happy to help out wherever they could. âI thought it was refreshing to do something outside of class that introduced us to it,â said Shiu. âWe were doing something really practical and necessary for the community. “
At Ruth Murdoch Elementary School, Terry Trecartin, a graduate social work student, participated with the Social Work Club and other volunteers. Together, he said, they repainted the basketball court and other areas. He enjoyed getting to know the small group of people. âI think it was excellent. I always love helping the community wherever we are, âsaid Trecartin. âIf they want to do it a few times a year, I would be on board to help again another time. It’s fun to do and a blessing to give back.
The Red Cross organized a blood drive at the Pioneer Memorial Church with a group of volunteers who either helped draw blood or donated blood. Andrew Remmers, senior in finance and accounting, attended the event. He said he appreciated Andrews’ commitment to Change Day. “It shows that Andrews University can go out into the community and have an impact and really put our faith into practice, which I think is very important – having a faith-centered community but also spreading that love through people. actions, âhe said.
One of the biggest projects of the year, Christmas Behind Bars, was sponsored by the Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Freedom by Design community service program. Volunteers gathered more than 10,000 packages for local prisoners throughout the day. Janine Carlos, administrative assistant for the Department of Church History, and Thandi Dewa, a recent graduate in biology and Spanish, took part in the activity.
As a participant in his fourth day of change, Carlos has held all possible roles within the assembly line, finding special meaning in the act of helping others outside of his immediate community. âI like that stuff. I like the service, in generalâ¦ I think it’s important, âshe said. âSometimes when you work for the church you tend to do church things only for the people in the church. And so, a few years ago, I said, âI have to try to do whatever I can in the community and interact with it. ”
Dewa, who is BSCF’s social vice president, said she enjoys volunteering with friends and new acquaintances. She also found the process to be an important personal experience. âI felt like Change Day was supposed to be my way out into the world to change someone else’s life,â she explained. “But looking back on the day, I think it really changed my life and I’m so grateful that I had this opportunity.”
In another impactful project, JosÃ© Bourget, a university chaplain, worked with the Berrien County Cancer Center to visit the home of a cancer survivor and provide gardening services. He recalls: âBefore we started working on our site, we shared the different reasons why we chose this particular change project. We all have a loved one who has cancer in their life. In fact, one of our students survives cancer thanks to a bone marrow transplant, âsaid Bourget. âWe were able to share these stories with Lynda, the cancer survivor we worked with. Next, Lynda shared part of her journey, specifically how she has her own plans for changing knitted hats for pediatric cancer patients. We were inspired by how our common struggle fuels all of our work to support the common good. “
AU President Andrea Luxton explained that ” Changing the world ‘appropriately comes at the end. [of our mission statement] because all of our acquired knowledge and all the faith we claim is of little value unless we use it to effect positive change in the world. She added, “This is why the Day of Change is so important: it’s us at Andrews University telling Berrien County that we want to live our faith and use our knowledge by being partners in making this part.” in the world a better place for everyone. “
The first Change Day took place on September 14, 2017, sending students, faculty and staff to the community of Berrien to paint, clean, educate and more. It has continued every year, receiving positive feedback from concerned people and state officials, all grateful for the time and effort of the participants. The project underwent modifications and adaptations due to the pandemic, but still found avenues for positive change.
Tony Yang, vice president of strategy, marketing and enrollment at the university, said that âwork is important, but it is secondary to relationships. The existing ones are reinforced and new ones are trained, âhe explained. âThere is something special that happens when students, staff and faculty come together – setting aside age, rank, titles – and work together on something meaningful. There really is no other day like this.
Reflecting on this year’s Day of Change, Teela Ruehle, director of student missions and coordinator of services and events, said that this year the organizers were hesitant about Day of Change because they didn’t know how many students would come forward to serve. His expectations were, however, exceeded. âI am so impressed with the number of students, faculty and staff who have come today to give back to their community,â she said.
Encouraged and excited by the commitment to change the world on the Andrews campus, Ruehle said it was inspiring to see students take the lead in making their community a better place. âIt’s a great reminder that each of us can make a difference in someone else’s life, starting with one little act of kindness at a time,â she said.