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Running Head: SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

Service Learning Paper


Shelby Birchmeier
Ferris State University

SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

Service Learning Paper


Academic service learning is an evidence-based experience to enhance traditional
classroom study by supplementing it with community service that is relevant to the subject
material and meaningful to the community and offer students the knowledge, skills, and values
they will need for well-rounded civic engagement (Ferris State University, 2015). When a
student obtains a Bachelors of Science in Nursing at Ferris State University, all students are
required to complete academic service learning hours within the community. Nursing students in
particular are required to complete twenty hours of academic service learning. This paper
describes this authors service learning experiences that took place with the Delta College
nursing students (DCNS). In addition, this paper will further explain these agencies descriptions,
a description of the volunteers service role, a critical reflection of this service learning
experience, as well as a synthesis of understanding of the experience. The author will begin by
sharing pertinent information about the agencies where services learning took place.
Organization Description
The author began this experience by working with the Delta College nursing instructor
(DCNI) to coordinate volunteer opportunities within the community, for all students involved. In
addition, the author participated in all volunteer work with these students. The students and
author completed the service learning experience together at the Underground Railroad, Under
the Rainbow Resale Shop, and Old Town Soup Kitchen. Each organization plays a critical and
unique role in providing aid to the community.
We will begin by exploring the background of each organization within the community.
The Underground Railroad first opened their doors in 1977, as the first free standing emergency
shelter in Michigan. At this time, the Underground Railroad provided emergency shelter to
battered women and their children (Underground Railroad, 2014). Throughout its years of
operation, the Underground Railroad has vastly grown and expanded. In 1989, the organization

SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

first began providing sexual assault services. In 2000, the Underground Railroad continued to
expand by providing a walk-in medical clinic that provided civil legal assistance.
In 2008, the Under the Rainbow Resale Shop opened, to provide discounted clothing and
home goods to those within community in need (Underground Railroad, 2014). Under the
Rainbow uses vouchers to provide clothing and household items to women and their children
during their transition phase (Underground Railroad, 2014). The shop is also open to everyone
in the community to provide discounted clothing and goods to those in need.
In 2001, the Old Town Soup Kitchen was founded by a Christian pastor and his wife, who
recognized a need within the community. The Old Town Soup Kitchen was began as an outdoor
mobile kitchen. Within one year a storage barn was purchased to house the Old Town Soup
Kitchen. It was not until 2008, when funds and finances allowed for the construction of a bigger
building to continue to meet the needs in the community (Old Town Christian Outreach Center,
2014). Along with providing hot meals, every Saturday the soup kitchen gives away groceries to
those in need. Now that backgrounds of the three organizations, have been explored, the author
will discussing her role as a volunteer at each of these organizations.
Volunteer Role Description
Volunteering with each of these organizations was a positive experience. Before
volunteering, the author worked with the DCNI to prepare and coordinate volunteering
experiences for all students involved. The experience provided the author, and students with
many different volunteer opportunities to play a crucial role in serving the community. When
volunteering at the Underground Railroad and Under the Rainbow Resale Shop, roles were
similar. At the Underground Railroad one would help to sort donated items to meet the needs of
women and children. For example, diapers of all sizes were donated that need to be sorted
through, sized, counted and packaged to be given out to moms in need at the shelter. At Under
the Rainbow Resale Shop, donated items would be sorted through and prepared to be sold or

SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

given away with vouchers from the Underground Railroad.

When the author and DCNS

volunteered at Old Town Soup Kitchen, students were provided the opportunity to engage in
many different service roles. At the soup kitchen, the author served meals, washed dishes,
cleaned, or cooked as needed. In addition, students worked alongside volunteers to pack up
groceries and distribute them to people in need. Throughout all service learning experiences, the
author engaged in many personal reflections.
Critical Reflection
As a result of this service learning experience, the author had an unforgettable experience
that increased appreciation for the community and people among it.

The many new

environments, new people, and new roles left the author uneasy and nervous, but excited to
begin. Before beginning the volunteer experiences, the author and other students reflected on
thoughts and feelings, as well as what each hoped to gain from the experience.

Some

assumptions made by the author and other students were that the people within the community
may be uneducated or ungrateful for services.
These experiences were impactful for the author and DCNS at every organization. The
author gained vast knowledge of the organizations, the people who serve the community, and
people in need of services. At the Underground Railroad and Under the Rainbow Resale Shop, it
was amazing to see how many women and children within the community benefitted from these
the services provided. Women who were struggling to get back on their feet would come in
Under the Rainbow to get clothing for their children, and for interviews with vouchers provided.
All women were appreciative, respectful, and were happy to have sometime decent to wear.
When the author and DCNS volunteered at Old Town Soup Kitchen, all the people were so
friendly and grateful for the help and services offered. Each individual had their own story, and
made it known how appreciative they were, and were willing to help in anyway.

SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

After the service-learning experiences the author and students were grateful for these
organizations within the community. It was easily noted that initial assumptions made were
wrong. Not only were all the workers and organizations grateful for the author and students
volunteer experiences, but the community alike. Each agency attempted to aid the people within
the community to the best of their ability.
Synthesis
The authors service learning experience plays a big role in her nursing career. This
experience is an important reminder not to judge or make assumptions about a patient or subset
of people. Nurses are here to serve all populations and may not always understand ones
situation, but have a duty to continue to provide quality and safe care. In order to provide quality
and safe care to all it is paramount that a nurse to use theoretical base and scholarship for
practice, along with generalist nursing practice. A nurse should organize the interdisciplinary
health care needs of diverse populations across the lifespan toward achieving the goal of healthy
individuals, families, groups and communities (Ferris State University, 2011). In addition, a
nurse should conduct ones self with professionalism in all situations; whether one is in the
community or at work. It is important to consider collaborative leadership, and the health care
environment when addressing changes in order to help provide great care for all populations.
In conclusion, the overall volunteer experiences has left the author beyond grateful for the
people and organizations within the community. After learning about the organizations missions,
and volunteer role, the author has gained much knowledge of the way the organizations
positively impact the community and people within it. The service learning experience was an
eye opener, and amazing opportunity to serve others in an alternative way.

SERVICE LEARNING PAPER

References
Ferris State University. (2015). Purpose of academic service learning. Retrieved from
http://www.ferris.edu/asl/
Ferris State University. (2011). BSN program outcomes. Retrieved from
http://www.ferris.edu/colleges/alliedhe/Nursing/BSN-program-outcomes.htm
Old Town Christian Outreach Center. (2014). Our history. Retrieved from
http://www.oldtowncoc.com/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=34
Underground Railroad. (2014). About us. Retrieved from
http://www.undergroundrailroadinc.org/history.html
Underground Railroad. (2014). Under the rainbow. Retrieved from
http://www.undergroundrailroadinc.org/rainbow.html