Utilize National or Local Service Agencies
Creating a project doesn't have to be difficult or too time-consuming. Instead, contact a community resource center in your area and join up with an already existing program. Make use of the resources of national or local service agencies, such as Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Easter Seals, or Goodwill Industries.
Sponsor a project with alumni clubs from other colleges and universities. This can be an effective way to increase the success of a project, particularly for a small club.
Broaden the Scope
Seek volunteers from other clubs, high schools, parishes, businesses, organizations, family and friends. Your Marquette club does not have to be the focus of the activity. Choose a project that appeals to as many people as possible and that is a reasonable undertaking for your clubs. The important factor is service to the community.
Consider Your Club Size
Choose a project that is best suited for your club. Poll the club board and members; if your club's membership or financial resources are limited, don't attempt a project that requires large groups of volunteers or much funding. Initially, arrange a quick project such as a roadside cleanup, which can fit into the tight schedules of club members.
Start Out Small
Be willing to start out with a small project and let it grow. Don't assume that you need a large group of volunteers to undertake a project. Even a small amount of service is important, and it only takes one person to make a difference.
Consider Comfort Levels
Consider the different comfort levels that your fellow alumni might have. Until you have some understanding of who will be participating in your club’s projects, try and plan more broad base service projects.
Expand Your Event
Many clubs choose to hold an activity before or after their service project. This can be a great opportunity to spend time to reflect on your project or another opportunity to just have fun! Think about adding a mass, breakfast/lunch, ice cream social, etc.
Think about the Long Term
Another option that your club may explore is to start a monthly* service project that your club will participate in. Pick an organization or charity and then plan regular visits to that site. This type of project will help in making service a regular component of your club and makes it easier on the club coordinator in terms of planning.
*Or whichever time frame works best for the group.
It is crucial to prepare your group for each service experience to increase the likelihood that there will be positive outcomes for both community members and alumni participants. Below are some guidelines to help prepare you in arming the alumni with the right information:
Logistical Information about the Day
- When and where will your group meet?
- How will you get to the service site? If alumni are driving themselves, please be sure to include clear driving directions.
Information about the Content of the Project
- Who will meet your group at that site?
- Will training need to be provided?
- What type of service you will be doing?
- What will happen after the project?
- Will there be a reflection session afterwards?
Information about Broader Issues Relating to the Project
Providing information about the population with whom you will be working with and relevant issues addressed by the service agency will aid in understanding.
Explore Expectation and Assumption of the Participants
Find out what participants hope to gain from the project.
If applicable, discuss stereotypes, impressions, assumptions and concerns before beginning the project.
Choosing the best project for your club is a critical step in making your service worthwhile and a meaningful experience. Learning about a service agency’s goals, expectations, history, philosophy, staff and volunteers can help you select one that best matches yours groups’ interests, skills, and learning goals for the experience. Use this list of questions to help you gather information when you talk with the volunteer coordinator in each of the agencies of interest.
Questions About the Agency
- What are the goals of the organization?
- How long has the agency been operating?
- Whom does the agency serve?
- How many volunteers serve the organization?
- How is it funded?
- How does the agency interact with the surrounding community?
Questions About your Service
- What type of work needs to be done that our group can help with?
- What expectation does the organization have of its volunteers?
- What type of service does the agency need? (direct work with clients, behind-the-scenes work)
- Are there specific skills or qualities the agency is looking for in its volunteers?
- What type of orientation and training with our group receive?
- Who will be our contact person on site?
- Must volunteers agree to a minimum commitment?
- Can we come for a one day project?
- Are the times our group can come flexible or fixed?
- Is public transportation available to the site? Is there parking?
- Is there additional assistance required at certain times of the year, like holidays, when our group might be helpful?
- What skills/qualities can volunteers develop working with the agency?
Reflection can be a useful tool after participating in community service. Consider encouraging those in your club to utilize this web site for reflection.
- Prayer for Generosity by Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556)
- Prayer for Compassion by Pierre Teillhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881–1955)
- Service of the Poor by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997)
For more prayers, visit Marquette University Prayer Book, Finding God in All Things (PDF).
Free write: Give everyone a few minutes to free write their feelings about the project. Ask for volunteers to share what they have written in small groups.
Sentence Stems: Read some sentence stems aloud and have participants write and/or share their thoughts.
- Today I learned …
- What surprised me about today was …
- The most challenging thing about today was …