By Nickol Enss ’10
Students at William Woods University are serving SERVE this semester, and learning from the experience.
SERVE Inc., is a nonprofit social service agency in Fulton, Mo., that helps achieve the unmet needs of Callaway County. Services include a food pantry, a transportation system, senior volunteer placement, a thrift store, youth mentoring programs and GED classes for individuals in Callaway County.
Through a program called academic service-learning, some WWU professors are combining education with community service by taking on projects for SERVE in their classes.
“For a local not-for-profit on a limited budget and a small staff, it would simply not be possible to accomplish these projects without the efforts and talents of the William Woods students,” Lisa Brown, executive director of SERVE, Inc., said.
Linda Duke, instructor of marketing and business, asked her upper-level public relations class to work on revamping SERVE’s image.
“Happily, to our surprise, they want us to re-brand the entire SERVE organization. The class is working on their branding, logo and signage,” Duke said.
Her public relations class is in charge of coming up with a new look and mission statement for the nonprofit agency, creating new brochures and improving their Web site.
“The class is acting like a public service agency,” Duke said. “They are broken up into teams that are working on news releases, the bibliography, media kit and radio or video commercials for SERVE.”
She added, “It’s a great deal for both parties. SERVE gets upper-level great materials to use, and our students walk away with hands-on experience they can put on their resumes.”
One of the main focuses of the branding effort is the Clothes Cupboard, a thrift store at 501 Nichols St. in Fulton that is affiliated with SERVE.
Cassie Davis, WWU’s academic service-learning coordinator, commented, “People don’t realize the Clothes Cupboard is connected to SERVE. The hope is that with the help of Linda Duke’s public relations class, people will utilize it and donate more to SERVE.”
Cindy Robb, instructor of sports medicine, is also incorporating service-learning in the classroom. Her advanced nutrition class has been creating healthy recipes that utilize foods commonly donated to food banks.
“They are putting together recipes to try and improve the nutrient density that you would normally find in the food bank and put together a recipe that is healthier,” Robb said. “This will benefit the students by giving them practical application for nutrition in the community.”
Art students, too, are getting involved. Students of Professor Terry Martin are creating acrylic paintings to hang in SERVE’s main office.
“My students have been designing and painting close ups of flowers,” said Martin. “The colorful and bright paintings will provide the folks who work at SERVE, and those who go to the facility, with an upbeat and artful environment.”
He also believes the project will benefit the students.
“We have learned the basics of acrylic painting this semester and this real world project provides the art students with an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned.”
Another professor involved with SERVE this semester is Jennifer Petterson, western riding instructor. Petterson’s Western Club and other student volunteers from her Western classes provided a horse workshop on Oct. 18 for the youth in Callaway County who otherwise wouldn’t have the privilege to be around horses.
WWU students demonstrated the basics of handling a horse, including how to maintain a horse, proper feeding, grooming and basic horse handling. They also provided a basic riding demonstration.
“Many youngsters have few, if any, opportunities to get up close with horses, and for some seeing a horse can be a life-changing occasion,” Petterson said.