Every year, the Residence Hall Association provides students on campus with the opportunity to serve as part of Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. The event, which has been sponsored by USA WEEKEND and Points of Light for over two decades, aims to connect people with opportunities to serve while increasing an overall sense of community. It might sound like a simple concept, but every year millions of volunteers come together to make a difference in the communities in which they live.
A few weeks ago, 57 St. Norbert College students ventured out into the community to help make a difference. These students spent the afternoon winterizing homes, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, and washing windows for the elderly in 21 different locations. By spending a few hours working on these houses, students were not only able to ensure that the elderly’s homes are well-kept during the harsh winter months, but also make new connections with residents living in the Greater Green Bay area. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Sean McIlheran, RHA vice president and coordinator of this year’s Make A Difference Day at St. Norbert College.
The soon-to-be St. Norbert graduate has participated in Make A Difference Day every year since he was a freshman. Over the years, Sean has served at various sites and worked on numerous projects, but he says that his fondest memories come from simply taking the time to speak with the people he and other volunteers have been able to help. He says, “They’re always extremely appreciative of our work and they love talking to us and sharing stories.”
Organizing Make A Difference Day turned out to be a very different experience from past years though. Sean explained that Make A Difference Day is a program that takes a lot of effort to organize ahead of time. He spent weeks getting announcements out to various organizations on campus to help build interest, spent the entire month of October recruiting volunteers, and worked diligently for the last few weeks matching the volunteers up with houses in the community that needed their help. Finally, on the day of the event, Sean was able to relax a little bit and enjoy watching as all of his hard work and planning paid off. He commented, “On the day of the event, I just had to organize lunch and give directions to anyone who was lost!”
For Sean, being able to see the event come together after so much preparation was a wonderful experience. While reflecting on the event, he said, “I hope it reminds SNC students that the college does not exist in a vacuum and that there is a much larger community that the college is a part of.”
If you would like to get involved with Make A Difference Day next year, you can contact the Residence Hall Association on campus for more details by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting their website.