Service to others is at the foundation of an Olivet College education. Committing ourselves to others is what we mean when we say, “Be More. Do Good.” The Difference Maker program is one example. This is a program for students who have devoted their time to service and volunteering.
Director of the Difference Maker Program and Community Service Coordinator Jacob Richards ‘18 said of the program, “We wanted to provide a place for students to come to college and volunteer just like one might come to college and play in a band or for a sport. The Difference Maker program is about volunteering and making a difference in our communities.”
Senior Kobe Hogue is a Difference Maker who said that he did not have much experience with service work prior to his time at Olivet. However, it didn’t take long for him to see the impact service has. One trip that especially stands out for Kobe was to Tennessee in the spring of 2022.
On this trip, Olivet Students worked with the Morgan Scott Project in Deerlodge, Tennessee. This organization is named after the two counties it serves, Morgan and Scott, which are amongst the poorest counties in Tennessee. As a result, there is a lot of need in this area of the country. On this service trip, Kobe worked with the other students to build a wheelchair ramp for a local family.
Kobe said, “I got to see firsthand how grateful this family was to receive the ramp. One of the family members had recently injured themselves, and I realized how much putting in the hard work of building this ramp to make their lives easier meant to them.” Exposure to poverty and need in this way allows the Difference Makers to be more empathetic and proactive in both the communities they visit and the communities they call home.
Not only does this work help those in need, but it also benefits the ones doing the work. As Kobe explained, “I truly think that community service is important because it bonds us together as a community and creates an experience that opens your eyes to the real need for these kinds of services.”
Jacob added that students gain experience finding real-life solutions to real-life problems. They see the needs around them and practically step in and help. Additionally, service often produces character within individuals. While volunteering, students may have to go outside their comfort zone and put others’ needs above their own. “The value of the Difference Makers Program is two-fold,” said Jacob, “You both help people in need, and you undergo the growth that you need.”
For their hard work and commitment, some members of the Difference Maker program are eligible for a scholarship of up to $2,000 a year. Prospective first-year students must apply for the scholarship, be residential students, and complete at least 25 hours a semester of service. Current Olivet College students are welcome to participate in the program, which is a great and meaningful way to build character and your resume.
This program is a perfect way to live out the OC mission. As Jacob said, “Olivet College has a long history of community service. From the moment of our founding, Olivet was actively seeking to make a difference in this world. Be More. Do Good stems out of our love of serving others in need.”
If you are currently an Olivet College student and this program sounds like a good fit for you, contact Jacob Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by his office, Mott 203, for more information, and prospective students can apply for the scholarship here.
Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or email@example.com.
This feature was written by Savannah Baker, a senior studying English and business. The former editor of Olivet’s literary journal, Garfield Lake Review, Savannah now pursues her interest in writing and editing as a marketing intern with Olivet College.