Anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about community service. In fact I’ve even dubbed myself “America’s Community Service Advocate℠!” (It beats getting a tattoo!) As a youth I joined the Scouts and when I got into high school, I joined a student organization dedicated to community service. It was in these organizations that I had my first formal leadership experiences. I found that through serving others, I was learning more about myself and how to be an effective leader.
As I moved on to college, I continued my community service involvement and sought out leadership opportunities. I moved up the ranks of Circle K International, served as International President and became the most decorated advisor in the history of that collegiate service organization.
Today, I have personally performed more than 50,000 hours of community service while leading college students to over two million hours of service through my ‘Building Leaders Through Service®‘ training program. One of my proudest was being designated a ‘Community Hero’ for reading to kindergarteners and getting to be a torch bearer for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA.
Most recently I’ve partnered with the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities to jump-start their APCA Serves! Program. Together we created the following tenants of the program – along with goals and learning outcomes – that encourages all schools and students to get involved in their communities. You can work toward these or other priorities that you have on your campus to create successful programs.
APCA Serves! is about:
HUMANITARIAN SERVICE. Service to others involves compassion, concern, and care. This transcends politics, religion, race, financial ability, social status, national origin, and other identities that could interfere with the human element of care for others. Information tables in high traffic areas are a great way to engage in humanitarian service by informing students of causes and opportunities that they may not know about.
MOTIVATING STUDENTS TO SERVE. You can put on the greatest, most altruistic service project ever, but no one is helped if students do not come and participate. Encouraging students to serve can be facilitated in many ways: graduation requirements, as components of office or for scholarships, through word of mouth, and by active promotion.
SHARE YOUR SERVICE. Service to others should not exist in the shadows or in secret because students who serve can be great role models for others on campus. This can be applied to the easiest, simplest, and smallest of service efforts and to the largest, high-profile events that happen on your campus. Encourage your students to show off their service, not to get accolades or recognition from others, but in order to be an example to other students.
TEAMING UP FOR SERVICE. Many students serve in individual ways, but they can really advance their leadership skills by partnering with other students on campus. This can happen in organizations or clubs or simply by finding like-minded students with a desire to serve. Teaming up also allows for students to provide their own creativity and expand the scope of the service they perform.
PASSPORT TO SERVICE. Service to others requires dedication, involvement, goal setting, and planning. Students are asked to make a plan of service for the next year, which can be a 12-month period, a school year, or an academic term. When students write down a goal of how they will serve and share it with others, they are making it a part of who they are.
I encourage to contact the APCA or come out to one of the national or regional conferences, find out more about how your campus can get involved and join us all as APCA Serves!