Impacting College Students' Through Community Service
Michelle Peterson, Director of Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE), Seton Hall University, explains how DOVE encourages college students to volunteer and how their impact on the community changes their way of thinking.
"We welcome Michelle Peterson, Director, Division of Volunteer Efforts, otherwise known as DOVE - d-o-v-e - at Seton Hall University. Good to see you, Michelle. Thanks for having me. DOVE is? DOVE is the branch of Seton Hall University that gets our students engaged in community outreach and community service. Describe that. On a variety of levels, our students are interested in deepening their involvement in the community so that they can connect their academics with their faith life and with the needs in our community. Let's break this down a little bit. I've told you, I know Seton Hall pretty well. The president Meehan and I were having a conversation about this a couple months ago, and she told me about the work you were doing and I thought, "What a good conversation to have." Because along with countless other parents who watch this program, we try to advocate that our kids get involved, make a difference. But I'm curious. Do you have to recruit volunteers? Or are students at the university coming to you saying, "I want to find a way to make a difference"? Or both? A little bit of both. A little bit of both, Steve. When I started, we started with a very few number of programs. We've grown to have over 20 programs go out every single week. Throughout the month, we have more than 50 or 60 programs that engage our students in various opportunities of service. So let's break it down a little bit. I know that the St. John's Soup Kitchen, which I know very well... Mm hmm. Describe who goes there and why. You know, that's the most surprising of our programs, because we have a waiting list for students to go serve breakfast, and they leave campus at 6:30 in the morning. St. John's Downtown Newark? Downtown Newark. Right. The oldest church in Newark. And you'd never expect to have a waiting list for students to get up that early. What time are they there? They're... we leave campus at 6:30. And they come back by 10-ish? They come back by 10:00. And it's unbelievable. And what do they do for them? You know we... the the basics are that we cook breakfast and lunch, but more than that, is that they form relationships with the people outside and the people that they're volunteering with. So, they're putting a face and a name with a statistic of homelessness. So that it's more than just something they do in a day, but something that they believe they're changing. Michelle, what do you think, with the academic rigor that there should be at your university and other institutions of higher learning, what do you expect... what usually happens to a student when he..."