Students, faculty honored for service


by Becca Harris/Staff Writer

Simpson College continues to excel in the private college world by dedicating time to the community; that is, through community service.That emphasis on helping others seems to have paid off. Simpson was honored recently with a service award for the 47, 517 hours of volunteer work students completed in 2008. That is equivalent to $765,023.70.

For the fifth year in a row Simpson was recognized as a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Both students and staff have participated and continue to rack up service hours for the school.

This award was created to promote volunteer work in higher education by giving schools money in accordance with the number of hours they provide.

Jim Hayes, associate dean and director of the Center for Vocation and Integrative Learning, said he is impressed with the amount of work Simpson students and staff have put forth in the past four years. Hayes promotes community service because he feels that it helps people develop as individuals and can even point an individual in the direction for a career if they find something they like.

“It’s pretty impressive; the amount of students who participate in community service,” Hayes said.

The service award has been presented to Simpson for every year since it began in 2006; but Simpson is one of the few schools that receive distinctions with it each time. The award itself if not necessarily difficult to get; however, the distinctions that can be placed with it are. More than 700 colleges and universities around the country were recognized last year, but only 112 of them received distinctions.

“This award helps to acknowledge the work of higher education students by honoring the time they put into their communities,” Hayes said.

Jim Thorius, vice president and dean of student development, said he thinks the service award is a great recognition for the volunteer efforts of those at Simpson. Thorius said that community service is a genuine part of learning and helps develop personal skills.

“Community service is an extremely valuable way for students to think about what they want to do with their life,” Thorius said.

The service award is not only meant to recognize the students, staff and faculty that donate their time individually, but to acknowledge the college as a whole. The hope is that by recognizing a group’s volunteer work, more individuals will be willing to participate.

Senior Kelsey Johnston is a highly active participant in the field of community service. In fact, she has a scholarship because of it. Johnston said she enjoys giving back to others and would highly recommend others try it.

“I have learned so much from my time volunteering,” Johnston said. “I have grown because of the wonderful people and experiences I have had.”

Hayes said Johnston’s positive volunteer experience is just one of many at Simpson.

“Simpson is a place where serving others is important,” Hayes said. “It’s the lifestyle for today.”

Thorius thinks that participating in volunteer work helps students to discover their gifts and passions in life. It is also a great way to connect formal classroom education to meaningful life goals.

“Try it all – walk a dog, adopt a grandparent or rake leaves,” Johnston said. “There are so many fun ways to be involved. Find something that fits you. Service has changed my life. Get involved. Take a risk. Try it.”

For more information about serving the community or service scholarships, check out the Simpson Web site.