hat can a group of 20 committed young people accomplish? Plenty. The Austin College Service Station has coordinated hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours for students since its founding in 1991. In its 25th year, student commitment remains strong.
The program is led by a 20-member student board, and Nancy Morgan, coordinator of volunteer services since 2008, guides the group. The mission is to match willing student volunteers with service needs in nearby communities. Short- and long-term projects pass through the Service Station regularly, and the board maintains a thorough list of community contacts to make sure the opportunities never run dry for individuals and the many campus organizations that have service goals each year.
“There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe the significance of giving back and what it means to me,” said Henali Patel ’17, who is co-chair of the Service Station Board with Ganesh Maniam ’17. “The Service Station Board encourages everyone to discover the joys of giving back and see firsthand how it impacts your personal and academic life for the better.”
The Service Station coordinates several annual programs that involve large numbers of students, including First We Serve, a project completed by incoming freshmen each fall; Great Day of Service and a food drive every fall; JanServe during January; GreenServe, environmentally focused service each spring in conjunction with the campus Thinking Green effort; and Alternative Spring Break service trips that often have included relief and rebuilding following natural disasters.
To mark the 25th anniversary, the Service Station was featured at the November 2016 Collin County AlumNight in Plano, Texas. Friends and alumni gathered to reminisce and review scrapbooks from years past.
Reasons for celebration were plentiful. The Service Station had just completed the 19th Great Day of Service on November 5, during which 426 volunteers mobilized to provide more than 1,275 hours of service to 46 agencies in the surrounding communities. The event’s slogan, “Gotta Serve ’Em All,” rang true as students were well-received by nonprofit groups with much work to be accomplished.
Other regular programs include tutoring of area school students and coordinating ’RooBound, a monthly Saturday morning enrichment program for area children. International outreach comes through the annual Tostan awareness dinner and art auction, now in its 10th year, which benefits a community empowerment organization in Dakar, Senegal.
The Service Station is part of Religious Life programming and is overseen by Austin College chaplain John Williams ’84. Initially funded through the Priddy Foundation of Wichita Falls, Texas, the organization has received additional financial support from the Oliver Dewey Mayor Foundation, the Captain H.T. Hastings Charitable Trust, Bob and Laura Dies Campbell ’73, and many other alumni, churches, and friends of the College.