The purpose of our service learning model is to encourage our students to volunteer in their communities while also putting into practice what they’ve been learning in their courses. So that’s precisely what Minnesota School of Business information technology student, Lance V. did.
Last quarter, Lance was enrolled in Jim Walsh’s customer service strategies course, and was tasked with finding a place to volunteer to use his customer service skills in the organization he’d chosen.
Being a previous volunteer at Anna Marie’s Alliance, an emergency shelter for battered women and children, made Lance’s decision easy. Lance says, “I have been helping with the organization since my first year of college because I felt some kind of obligation to give back. The reason I state that I feel obligated, is that I grew up in an abusive home but never had a place to go when it came to the worst. At this time, I feel like I can aid in providing support and give those women and children protection.”
Lance says he mostly volunteers in the kitchen area of the shelter, and is often the first face the women and children see in the morning when they’re coming down for breakfast. He goes on to say, “I make sure to have a smile on my face and a friendly attitude to let them know there is someone there that is happy to see them. I make sure to keep my verbal and non-verbal language welcoming and joyful, because these women and children are in need of reassurance that there are men out there who would not hurt them.”
In addition to the customer service he provides for the women and children, Lance says he wanted to go above and beyond by helping to create a healthier and more nutritious meal plan for the residents of Anna Marie’s. “When I first started, we had a pre-planned menu that we followed, that way we knew what to take out and what to prep before each shift. Now mind you, at the time I worked as a line cook at Bakers Square. I finally decided to ask the director if I would be able to go off menu, make breakfasts that didn’t require frozen meals or dinners that came from a box. I told her I could make nutritional meals that would cost less to make. Just because they are in a shelter doesn’t mean we shouldn’t focus on their internal health as well.”
Even though Lance’s service learning project ended last quarter, the dedicated volunteer says he will continue working with the shelter. He says, “I still feel an obligation to ensuring my “customers” have the best experience, and that we are taking care of their every need.”