Successful Service

Student Sam Babb, left, and Burger Center Director Katie McGinn, right, pose with Jenzabar Foundation Chairman and Jenzabar Inc. CEO Bob Maginn.

By Frank Radosevich II
September 27, 2012

Since fall 2011, the University’s Service on Saturday program has helped hundreds of students connect and give back to the Peoria-area. Now, the program is garnering some national recognition.

The Jenzabar Foundation recently honored the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service with a national student leadership award for the Center’s Service on Saturday, a program that provides students convenient ways to volunteer in the Peoria community.

“It was very exciting news,” said Katie McGinn, director of the Burger Center. “This award reaffirms that the students are making a difference and that this is a program that can be duplicated in other places.”

Based in Boston, the Jenzabar Foundation is a public charity that financially supports and raises awareness about student-led public service and humanitarian efforts.

SERVE, the group that organize Service on Saturday events, applied for the award in the spring and learned they were selected this month. In addition to the national recognition, Burger Center will receive a $5,000 gift to help further the program’s work. McGinn said the money would help cover the program’s cost of feeding, driving and training volunteers.

“More students than you’d expect want to volunteer,” said Sam Babb, a junior learning behavior major. Babb was one of many students that helped organize the inaugural Service on Saturday event and currently serves as a site leader by contacting nonprofits, preparing volunteers and troubleshooting any obstacles that arise.

Last year Bradley hosted six Service on Saturday events and saw more than 670 students volunteer more than 2,000 hours of community service. During each of the events, students can choose to help at one of several volunteer project sites at agencies like South Side Mission, Crittenton Centers, YWCA, Peoria Historical Society or the Peoria Art Guild.

The Service on Saturday program began when feedback showed many Bradley students wanted to become involved with the community but did not know how.

Students either did not know where they could volunteer or did not want to do so alone. Another sticking point was that many lacked transportation to and from nonprofits. Service on Saturday was created to knock down those barriers.

“We created the program to address all three of those concerns,” McGinn said. “We really gathered a core group of students that were passionate about service and wanted to make it accessible to their peers.”

Babb said she hoped the award would help publicize the good work done by Service on Saturday to other universities and would like to see the program grow.

“It would be great for it to spread to other campuses,” she said.

The next Service on Saturday event is Sept. 29. Students wanting to participate can register as volunteers for Service on Saturday here and local nonprofit agencies can apply to receive volunteers here.