Making a difference within the NSU community and beyond

NSU’s Make A Difference Week, which was held Oct. 14-22, was created to give NSU students the opportunity to give back to the community.

Each year, the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement in the Division of Student Affairs organizes the event and is responsible for bringing NSU organizations together in the spirit of community service.

The idea came from President Barack Obama’s Make A Difference Day, which takes place on the fourth Saturday in October, where the entire U.S. takes a day to give back to the community.

Jonathan Colon, graduate assistant for external service in the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, said he enjoys unifying students by helping others. He said the event has expanded from one day to one week.

“We created a kind of personalized Make A Difference Day and made it [happen],” said Colon.

Colon wants to use the slogan “Being a Shark in Service” in the future to promote community service and entice more students to participate in the event.

During this year’s event, campus organizations included C.A.U.S.E, Hillel, Lambda Theta Alpha, Latin Sorority Inc., Rotaract and Up Til Dawn recruited volunteers for their service projects.

Their service projects include: Give A Day, where students traveled to Key West to work with the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary cleaning up garbage and debris from the beach; the Disabilities Expo; Adopt a Street Clean-up, where volunteers helped beautify the roads in collaboration with the Keep Broward Beautiful organization; Relay for Life kick-off party, “Howling Hammock”; Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in collaboration with the American Cancer Society; and NAMIBikes Florida Tour, which allowed bicyclists to go the distance in support for those suffering from mental illness.

SLCE also offers service trips for students who are eager to go beyond one week of service and help those desperately in need out-of-state and internationally.

A service trip, The Spirit of NOLA, will take volunteers to New Orleans for a week to work with Habitat for Humanity NOLA chapter to build homes for families in dire need.

The trip will take place during the winter break and the estimated cost is $500. Colon said prices are subject to change, as fundraisers will take place well before the event to raise funds to decrease the trip costs.

This will be the fourth service trip made by NSU students.

Students who have attended previous service trips feel strongly about the experience.

Brynne Hunt, biology major, said,  “The service trip opportunities have taught me to open my eyes, and not only tolerate, but accept everyone for who they are.”

Lindsay Goldstein, speech pathology major, said, “I truly feel [when I participate in these trips] I’m part of something bigger than myself.

Another service trip will be made in May 2012 to Jamaica. NSU students will assist Food for the Poor in rebuilding homes, schools and libraries. Food for the Poor’s primary goal is to meet the immediate needs of the poorest of the poor.

The estimated cost for the trip is $1,300 and is also subject to change. Approved students have a yearlong fundraising opportunity to decrease the cost of attendance.

For more information contact Jonathan Colon at (954) 262-7297 or volunteer@nova.edu.

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