After a two-year pause of Volunteer Club activities due to the pandemic, this student-led club relaunches with the help of Catherine, an MLC instructor and former Academic Director who launched and led the club from 2018 through 2020.
The MLC Volunteer Club started with one student’s idea. Sarah, a student from Saudi Arabia, was interested in volunteering and asked Catherine about how she could start a volunteer activity in the US. After hearing this student’s consistent passion to support the local community, Catherine decided to help her find something.
When Catherine asked Sarah what kinds of volunteer opportunities she was looking for, Sarah’s answer was a bit surprising. “She was interested in volunteering at a nursing home, which I didn’t expect at all, because I thought students would be interested in an activity that would seem more exciting,” Catherine said. “Thinking back now, however, I found volunteering at a nursing home a wonderful idea. I believe students were thinking of their families back home and wanted to help people like their aging family members.”
Catherine set up an initial meeting at MLC. About 10 students joined the meeting, and they decided to focus on helping elderly people. After this meeting, students found nursing homes by doing a Google search and calling the nursing homes about volunteer opportunities. “This was not easy,” Catherine recalls. “We practiced the phone calls during Volunteer Club meetings. Finally, one nursing home said yes! We visited them for the first time in February of 2018.”
That was the start of the Volunteer Club. From the beginning, the club has been student-driven. Students would think about what they want to do and what the plan would be to make it happen. Practicing phone calls to find a nursing home turned out to be a great experience for students to improve their communication skills in English. For many international students, making a phone call in English is one of the biggest challenges. This experience of finding a nursing home and inquiring about the opportunity for volunteer work certainly gave students a great sense of accomplishment.
Since then, students and Catherine broadened their regular volunteer activity to the Community Kitchen as well as visiting the nursing home once a month. The club met on a regular basis and welcomed any students to join. They exchanged ideas about what they would like to do as a volunteer. Besides the regularly scheduled activities at the nursing home and community kitchen, they also organized a Food Drive, served in Ann Arbor Parks, and organized many other seasonal activities.
In 2020, however, COVID-19 made it very difficult to continue volunteer activities in-person. While MLC shifted its classes and activities to completely virtual that year, students did not cease to think about supporting the local community. They suggested that the Volunteer Club collect MLC students’ digital messages and send them to the nursing home. A group of volunteers organized the digital message cards and video messages. These projects delighted the residents of the nursing home.
In January 2023, as MLC has reopened and the in-person campus is in full swing, Catherine spoke with MLC’s leadership about starting the Volunteer Club up again. With the help of Moses and Kyle, the student service associate, we are happy to announce that MLC’s Volunteer Club is back!
Catherine is very excited to offer this great opportunity to students again. “The great thing about this club is that students can do what they are passionate about— we want to help them along the way.”
We’re looking forward to having many students join the club and enjoy supporting the local community!