‘It Changed Me for the Better’: Community Service Fosters Service-Learning

Posted by on April 11, 2013

Global Citizenship is a required general education course that most students take during their first or second quarter at Minnesota School of Business.  Throughout the duration of the course, students learn more about themselves and their community—both local and global—through readings, group discussions, and a service-learning project.

CEAP, Meals on Wheels, global citizenshipService-learning is best described as “learning by doing through an act of giving.”  Students choose an organization to work with, complete a project, and reflect on their experience before, during, and after the project; reflection is the key component that takes the project from the level of community service to service-learning. 

During the Winter 2013 quarter at Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, two small groups in Michelle Rivard’s Global Citizenship class chose to work with CEAP (Community Emergency Assistance Program).  

According to their website, “Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) is a community-based, non-profit agency dedicated to providing information, referrals, advocacy and assistance to low-income families and individuals, senior citizens and adults with disabilities.” 

The first group of Minnesota School of Business students chose to work with Meals on Wheels, which is just one of the programs that CEAP offers.  Even though it was an extremely snowy afternoon, the students were able to visit approximately 30 homes in the cities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park to deliver hot and cold meals. 

During their final presentation on the last day of class, the students shared that the clients were very appreciative of the delivery, especially due to the inclement weather.  The group also commented on how great it was that many of the clients wanted social interaction during the deliveries because of the “go-go-go world” that we live in; the overall reaction alone made the deliveries more rewarding.

Craig Peterson, a student in the group, shared, “I thought Meals on Wheels only worked with elderly people; however, I found out they help anyone who is eligible.  One of my stops was a single man who could not have been over 50 years old.  I saw the Meals on Wheels Program delivered to all age groups, single or married, and across all ethnic groups. … While doing this project, I saw that if I ever were to need a program like this, I would be grateful that they exist.  It also showed me how much others, many being strangers to one another, appreciate the simple gift of a hot meal on a cold winter day.” 

CEAP, service-learningPetersen also said, “In future classes, I believe I will be able to see a larger picture of global problems and seek out new and different solutions since doing this project. … I know it changed me for the better, and I now know that organizations exist that do not discriminate but simply help those in need in their community.”

Stephanie Hamre, another student in the group shared, “I was able to spend a few minutes visiting with some of the people we delivered to, and I learned that they are just the same as anyone else; any one of us could be in their same situation.  Working at Meals on Wheels really made me understand the point of what being a global citizen is really about.  It is one thing to talk about it in class and have some understanding about what it means, and it is another thing to get out there and do it hands on.  I now realize that it is possible for me to make a difference in my community, even if it means taking one day a month to help out.” 

Hamre added, “I feel like this is an experience that will help me in my other classes because it has made me more empathetic.  I can look at people now and not be so quick to judge them as I may have done in the past.”

The second group of students chose to work in CEAP’s warehouse doing tasks such as stocking shelves, bagging up food for families, and handing out the food to the clients who stopped by.  During their presentation, Tesa Townsend, Albertene Townsend, De Tarah Lewis, Duron Adams, and Vanessa Sparks shared the following observations:

  • Never judge the individuals who stop by to pick up food or other supplies.  Don’t assume that they have money; they may need help, too.
  • One woman’s exact words were, “My children no longer have to starve.”  It touched us and hurt us because no one should have to starve, let alone children.
  • When the names of the clients were called to come and pick up their bags or boxes of food, the relief on their faces was very obvious when it was their turn.  It was nice to help these families out.
  • No matter who we are or what our background is, any of us could end up in a situation where we fall short and might need help.

CEAP, service-learningRivard commented, “Students did an excellent job incorporating course objectives into their final presentations.  They were self-motivated and took their projects seriously.  Both Michelle Barsness, Community Manager and Service-Learning Coordinator, and I were impressed with how well students worked together and understood the importance of being involved within their communities.” 

The Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus is proud to have CEAP as a community partner.  Currently, in partnership with the Brooklyn Center Business Association, non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations may be dropped off at the campus until April 19.

Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.