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College Life provides students with volunteerism experience

College Life is a required course at Jones College and has been since 2013.  In 2022, a volunteerism component was added to the course curriculum with the goal of helping students become more actively involved in their communities.

In the spring semester of 2023, 353 students participated in a community service project which made up a total of 4,117 hours.

In order to successfully complete the College Life course, students now must complete 10 hours of community service.  Through these projects students discover that volunteering builds strong relationships and can also boost self esteem and help build leadership skills. 

“We do consider it a success,” said Dr. Kisha Jones, the creator of College Life. “We know that often when people think about community service, they think about it as a punishment. We want students to think of it as giving back to their communities and how they can help someone else.”

Pablo Lopez, a Jones student majoring in finance and accounting, said that when he was given the community service project assignment, he wanted to help an orphanage and found a local one on the internet. It was made up of a husband and wife team who homeschooled and oversaw five boys. Lopez called and talked to the couple to get more information.

Lopez, originally from Guatemala, lives in Waynesboro, where he attends a Hispanic church, but since he lives in the dorm and cannot always go home, he attends Wednesday nights at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Laurel. Lopez and the youth from his church visited the orphanage and had a game night with the boys. They could see how the boys did not have many other children to connect with, so the boys were very happy to have them there.

“The parents had said the boys were shy, but as the night unfolded, they came out of their shell,” Lopez said. “By the end of the night, it was like we had known them for years.”

Lopez said that he created a connection with the boys when visiting, and afterward, his church wanted to do something for them. They had an Adopt A Kid drive with five boxes, and they filled them with clothes, video games and other items the boys wanted.

“The people from my church were very friendly and optimistic,” he said. “I have to thank them because without them, it wouldn’t have been the same experience.”

Through his project, Lopez did so much more than just satisfy the requirements of his College Life course. He built lasting relationships and fulfilled a lifelong dream of helping children in need.

 “It wasn’t a school project anymore,” said Lopez. “It was a goal for me to make a difference.”

Lopez’s College Life instructor, John Stockstill, told his students that he wanted them to create a project that would last.

“I saw the project didn’t end,” said Lopez, who plans to continue working with the boys. He explained that the project spoke for itself and inspired others to do more.

Lopez’s story reiterates what Dr. Jones says about the importance of volunteering.

“Research shows that when we are helping other people and doing community service, we are actually helping ourselves,” said Dr. Jones. “We are building self confidence, social networks, and we are learning to work with other people.”

by Olivia Hennis

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