The Rapidian

Grand Valley's 50th Anniversary 50 Hour Service Challenge

The 50 year GVSU Volunteer Challenge has concluded, but it lives on.
Underwriting support from:
Hauling refrigerators & cast iron tubs down flights of stairs.

Hauling refrigerators & cast iron tubs down flights of stairs. /Brennen Gorman

Loading the deconstruct materials on the truck.

Loading the deconstruct materials on the truck. /Brennen Gorman

Taking a splash in the dead of winter for charity!

Taking a splash in the dead of winter for charity! /Brennen Gorman

The end of March marked the end of a yearlong challenge of service to the Grand Rapids community. Back in August of 2010, Grand Valley State University’s President Thomas J. Haas charged every student, faculty and staff member to complete 50 hours of service to the community by April 1st 2011. Dubbed “The President’s 50 Hour Service Challenge,” the challenge has sought to have Grand Valley affect the community in a markedly positive way. A stipulation in the conditions for attaining these hours has been that the service must directly serve either the Allendale or Grand Rapids community.

Fifty Hours for 50 Years

In 1960 Grand Valley State College was founded, a small school in the middle of farm land. Five decades later, Grand Valley State University is a downtown presence and is found celebrating its 50th anniversary, sporting campuses in five cities.

Headquartered in Allendale, twenty minutes west of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley looks to be an active participant within the Grand Rapids community. For 50 years now Grand Valley has been contributing to the education and betterment of young and old in the surrounding area.

In this volunteer challenge, activities that focus on community based issues and contributing to the overall public welfare are strongly encouraged. Over the past several years, overall service hours have been steadily rising, but with this challenge, declaration hours are expected to increase many times their normal level.

"Everyone has something they have to offer for the community even if it is just an able body ready to do what it’s told. Going with friends makes it even better" says student Mike Kaurich, an employee at the GVSU Community Service Learning Center (CSLC).

At the end of Grand Valley’s fall semester the total log of community service hours stood at 6,667 and active participation in 117 nonprofit organizations. This number doesn’t include hours that were not logged into the system set up by Grand Valley.

After this academic year (this spring), the Grand Valley community will continue on with these efforts once the challenge is over because so many people have been touched this year by serving the community.

Connecting with the community and demonstrating how Grand Valley as a whole is willing to help is what this project has been about. In the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, service was specifically listed as one of the major goals the administration wants to see happen. Service helps to strengthen a students' ties to the community and helps to instill a sense of civic engagement that cannot be gained anywhere else. Great memories are formed through the exciting and unique experiences gained from servicing all different areas of one's community. 

"Many more people are active this year than ever before and we are expecting them to keep volunteering in their remaining years at Grand Valley and hopefully onwards. Contributing to community even a little can do a great deal for those in it, so make your own challenges for this new year and see how much you can get accomplished as a citizen, business owner, or student," Kaurich went on to say. 

The number 6,667 may seem quite large, but with the current push of hours it is expected to end in the ball park of 15,000 hours as the conclusion to a great year of service to the community. With April 1st now past, the final figure is closer now than ever before.

For more information on the 50 Hour Service Challenge, or if you’re in need of volunteers, please contact the GVSU Community Service Learning Center at [email protected] or call at 616-331-2468. Visit the webpage at

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