Over 1,600 Ferris State University students joined the Big Rapids community for the Big Event. FSU students walked throughout neighborhoods in packs carrying rakes, trash bags and cleaning supplies.
As a first time volunteer, I wasn’t sure how significant a few less leaves could make in the community. However, one of the most noticeable improvements wasn’t shown in the maintained yard or number of full trash bags beside the garage.
It was shown in the number of FSU students who had previously never traveled further than Shooters when leaving Ferris’ campus. Phrases such as, “I didn’t know Big Rapids had a Dairy Queen,” or “where is Hemlock Park?” were said by a number of FSU students cleaning around neighborhoods, some of whom in their junior and senior years of college in Big Rapids.
The amount of volunteering by our registered student organization’s on campus has made significant improvements at FSU. This can be measured in the increased amount of campus diversity and social issues we choose to address.
Still, it is important that we expand our volunteer efforts outside of campus in order to improve our knowledge on the needs and benefits of our community. If the Big Event is the only chance we give ourselves to experience the community and its members, we limit the opportunity for Big Rapids’ expansion.
An important means of increasing the amount of student employment in Big Rapids and raising the number of students remaining local post-graduation is to expand our community awareness. Our city is only as large as our knowledge of it. While a large amount of FSU students question the number of social events in Big Rapids, we also have to question our own involvement in the city.
If volunteering in Big Rapids gives us anything, it should give us a voice that addresses the needs of our city for the sake of the students and the local members.