Feel Good Friday
Popular Program Encourages Community Service Among Students
Every Friday afternoon a group of students gathers near the Pomerantz Stage in Olmsted Center to kick off the weekend with Feel Good Friday. Some are new to the event; others are familiar faces. All have come together to serve the community.
Organized by senior Brittney Miller, student coordinator for volunteer service, Feel Good Friday allows Drake students to do a variety of volunteer work in the community. Participants may package food for Meals from the Heartland one week, then mentor children at Children and Family Urban Ministries the next.
A Meaningful Connection
Through community service students begin to understand what it means to be a global citizen—an important aspect of Drake’s mission statement. Feel Good Friday is one of many programs that encourages students to make volunteerism a regular part of their lives. Its focus is helping students see where their talents are needed.
“We want the introduction to the organizations we serve during Feel Good Friday to be meaningful, even if it’s just for one day,” says Miller, who is majoring in politics and English. “Sometimes these organizations are so short on resources that they just want the students to get to work but knowing what the organization does and how they are helping is important.”
Often, the program helps students find their passion.
“I have so many students who volunteer with me and find an organization they just love,” says Miller. “Volunteering is not about just showing up. It’s about sustaining relationships. Feel Good Friday provides a jumping off point for a bigger relationship.”
Some students return to Feel Good Friday because of the variety it offers. For them, it’s way to get involved in the Des Moines community while meeting other students.
“I’m from Minnesota,” says Erik Nielsen, a first-year pharmacy major. “It’s important for me to volunteer here now that I live in Des Moines. There are a lot of opportunities, and I try to take advantage of as many of them as I can.”
A Global Perspective
The program is popular with students—approximately 300 students have signed up for weekly e-mails about Feel Good Friday and the Facebook page has more than 200 group members. Actual participation depends largely on the number of students needed by an organization, but Miller says she almost always reaches the maximum number of volunteers.
The popularity of the program is not surprising to Leigh Thiedeman, director of fraternity and sorority life. College students in general have become more socially conscious, she explains. But Drake students have a history of participation in service-based organizations like Alpha Phi Omega and Best Buddies as well as volunteer work through fraternities and sororities and the Adams Academy.
This involvement, Thiedeman says, shows that Drake students are taking the University’s mission statement to heart.
“We talk a lot about global citizenship at Drake and part of being a global citizen is getting out into the community and giving back,” she says. ”Service is important for a well-rounded education, and it’s eye-opening for a lot of our students.”
This has certainly been the case for Miller, whose volunteer activities have solidified many of the concepts she has learned about in her classes — things like poverty and social justice.
“It’s one thing to learn about it in the classroom; it’s another to see it,” she says. “I think taking part in volunteer service is a great way to begin to understand what you are learning about in class.”