Ashland University Gets Involved with Community Service (AU GIVS) is a student-run organization that does just that and even more.
Being the only organization on campus that represents volunteerism and community service, AU GIVS is specifically designed to be open to all.
Randy Spade, director of community service and AU GIVS advisor, strives to give every Ashland student the opportunity to volunteer.
“[Volunteering] gives a renewed sense of purpose,” Spade said. “It transforms students. It’s one of those things that makes Ashland so unique.”
The organization helps to open more doors to more volunteers.
“We try to stay as relevant and as present as we can on campus without overwhelming,” Spade added.
AU GIVS has a variety of community partners, ranging from anywhere in Ashland to parts of Mansfield.
Volunteers break up into teams to organize events that are catered to the specific needs of community partners.
According to AU GIVS President Morgan Mauller, each team focuses efforts on specific populations, planning events to the community.
For instance, the Senior Citizens team designs events such as Adopt-a-Grandparent, which hosts in-person visits or Zoom sessions for the residents of various nursing homes.
The Good Shepherd has been a long-time partner with AU GIVS, with the organization visiting the center every Thursday evening.
Terry McQuillen has been the director for life enrichment at The Good Shepherd for almost 20 years and as the volunteer coordinator for 12 years.
“As long as I have been here, Ashland University has been volunteering,” McQuillen said. “They were not always under AU GIVS… I believe the name changed several years ago.”
According to McQuillen, AU GIVS has volunteered over 1,000 hours a year at The Good Shepherd.
“I believe having volunteers has impacted our residents over the years. Since they are young voices to talk to, some feel like they are like grandchildren,” McQuillen continued. “It’s a little different since Covid hit, but we appreciate every hour spent.”
With the pandemic and recent outbreaks, many visits have resorted to online portals.
In recent years, volunteers would paint residents’ windows in the fall and wash them in the spring. Some would build snowmen outside in front of windows to entertain and delight various residents.
“They have not stopped visiting even though it now has to be virtual,” McQuillen continued. “But it is still pretty special to watch how close the students are to the residents every Thursday. We can’t thank them enough for coming in, even if it can’t be in person.”
Sarah Fisher, senior citizens co-chair and special projects coordinator, was motivated by the team with her personal connection to it.
“My freshman year, my grandpa was in a nursing home,” Fisher said. “I know how lonely nursing homes can be. Because of the family connection, I want to help make residents feel less lonely. It is impactful to see how we’re helping people and the gratitude the community expresses.”
Spade, Mauller and Fisher make it an effort to motivate people and students.
“I want to show that AU GIVS is all about giving, volunteering and serving the community,” she added.
AU GIVS partners with GivePulse, a platform that shares any and all events for various volunteering opportunities.
“Some events fill up really fast,” Mauller said. “So links are sent out to general members first for the more popular events. They are still open to everyone after that.”
One of the biggest events is AU GIVS Day in the spring, which hosts as many events as possible through every community partner.
“Giving is a big part of community service,” Spade concluded. “Each member of AU GIVS gives so much of themselves and of their teams, giving worthy purpose to give back to the community in various ways.”