UM-Flint students volunteer over Spring Break

Share or print this article
DPT Students stand in front of Giving Tree at Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
Doctor of Physical Therapy students Jonathan Groening, Carly Wykes, Molly Booms, Emma DeBaeke, and Riley Erlenbeck volunteer at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan on February 28.

The week of February 28 marked a campus-wide Spring Break at UM-Flint, creating an opportunity for many UM-Flint students to take part in community service. The Alternative Spring Break program and the Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Association (DPTSA) gave us two examples of students engaged in meaningful causes throughout the Flint community. 

Alternative Spring Break

The Alternative Spring Break program, offered through the Office of Engaged Learning, is a cherished tradition at UM-Flint. Students learn about cultural and social issues and utilize their time and talents for social change through volunteerism with local organizations. Past partnerships have included elementary schools, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint.

This year, students could volunteer at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and King Karate, a martial arts school with a years-long commitment to community engagement, including a prominent urban farming initiative. 

Kimberly Griffin, a second-year Doctor of Nursing Practice student, says that Alternative Spring Break was a chance to volunteer outside of a busy school schedule. 

"I have always enjoyed volunteering for various events within the community, but attending graduate school while working full-time has presented some significant time constraints," Griffin said. "ASB made volunteering easy by planning and coordinating the event with the Food Bank during a break from coursework." 

Senior Human Biology major Nesha Jamison offers the perspective of a Flint native. She says that volunteering for organizations like the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is necessary for her community. 

"This cause touched me in a way that left a lasting impression on me," Jamison said. "As a native of Flint who has been both born and raised here, I hear so much negative connotation about the city. Unfortunately, 41.2 percent of the residents here live below the poverty line. Many families are plagued with hunger and limited resources. Organizations like the Food Bank are essential to the city, because we can see that those needs are being met."

After volunteering during Alternative Spring Break, Jamison is determined to apply what she learned to her future career in the dental field. 

"I am a firm believer that if you plant the right seeds, something wonderful will grow. That was one of the reasons I volunteered. I can't just say, 'I am ready to see this city change for the better.' I need to actually turn my words into action," Jamison said. "Going into the dental field, I know I will encounter a diverse demographic of people. I want to have the ability to make a difference in their lives through my work and the services I provide."

Those interested in taking part in other volunteer opportunities through the Office of Engaged Learning can find future programs on their webpage.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Association volunteer event

Students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Association (DPTSA) also volunteered their time at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, one of the multiple charitable events the group holds throughout the school year as part of its mission of charity and philanthropy.

According to the Volunteer Coordinator and DPT student Carly Wykes, these kinds of events are a learning opportunity for future physical therapists in the program.  

"Altruism and compassion are two of the core values for physical therapists as described by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). By organizing these kinds of events, we are encouraging students to exemplify these values inside and outside of the clinic," Wykes said. "It's also a fun way for any student to give back to their local community." 

The day was also a bonding opportunity for the first-year cohort. Wykes says that students got to know each other outside of the school setting. 

This event followed the group's efforts of raising money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, participating in the Flint Walk, collecting donations for the Whaley Children's Center, donating gently used winter coats and gloves to Carriage Town Ministries, and working with the Flint Firebird Foundation to donate shoes to developing nations. 

The group hopes to continue these opportunities with a possible community clean-up event in the Spring semester. 

Learn more about the DPT program at UM-Flint and ways to become involved on the DPT webpage.

Katelyn Stuck is a Marketing & Media Assistant with the Office of Marketing & Communications. She is a Communication Studies major.