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Campus News / News

A Student-athlete’s Perspective on Day of Service

12/17/2020 9:40 am

In September 2020, our Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement held its annual Day of Service. While following state and university COVID-19 safety protocols, our students were able to get out into the Rockford community to make a difference whether it was contactless, in-person, or virtually.

This year a total of 330 students, including 45 student-athletes, volunteered around Rockford. The locations included the mobile Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Ethnic Heritage Museum, and Rockford Rescue Mission.

Students worked on gardening and landscaping at Rockford Rescue Mission and the Ethnic Heritage Museum, in addition to serving families at the mobile Northern Illinois Food Bank that set up on campus. For virtual volunteering, students helped the Open Street Maps project and the Smithsonian Institution with a transcription project. Welsey Willows residents and RPS students received cards written by students on the Day of Service.

RU student-athlete Maurice Williams volunteered at the mobile food bank along with other teammates. Following the event, Maurice reflected on the day and talked with fellow student-athlete, Mykal Brown about the importance of volunteering and giving back to our local community.

Read his reflection below.

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

– Marian Wright Edelman.

On Sept. 11, 2020, Rockford University held a Day of Service where all students were encouraged to find a way to support and give back to the community. Out of all the students who participated in the Day of Service, there was an unspoken emphasis on the role of athletes in giving back. This year I am glad to say we had an amazing turnout of athletes to help on the Day of Service.

Now the question is after the Day of Service has come and gone, what is the athlete’s take on it? As a Rockford University athlete myself, I wanted to find another athlete to interview to explain the way athletes on campus felt about the Day of Service. I interviewed Mykal Brown, a sophomore receiver on the football team.

Before I touch on the interview with Mykal as well as my own personal experience, I would like to explain why it is so important to see Rockford University athletes giving back to the community. Rockford is a relatively small city, and they give their sports teams their full absolute support. That is one reason why when given a chance to help those who are less fortunate or the community as a whole, we as athletes should thrive on the opportunity to show that the support carries through to both sides of the coin. Service gives the athletic community a golden opportunity to show that we appreciate the support, and we would like to reciprocate the help.

Another reason why athletes should turn out to help is quite simply money. When I say money, I mean it not in the way of us getting paid for our work; however, I am addressing the money that is paid by the school for things like bus trips, jerseys, equipment, and so on. This, along with the money paid by people to support us and come to our games and even travel to our away games is reason enough to come out and give back.

The final reason for giving back is because Rockford is essentially your home now.

Whether a native Rockfordian or not, you still will spend four years of your life living here and as an athlete representing this city. Now, why would you not want to help the city you’re living in improve itself?

It is perplexing to think that someone would want to sit back and not want to help the city they represent go through hard times because like it or not it reflects a part of who they are as well.

I would like to take you through my interview with Mykal Brown before I give you my final thoughts on the Day of Service. The first question I asked Mykal was, how did he personally feel about helping out the community? He responded with, “It feels good to help out in the community especially being from Rockford. It makes me feel like I am doing my best to improve the community that helped mold me into the man I am.”  Next, I inquired into the reaction of his peers not from Rockford on the Day of Service. Mykal had this to say in response: “After having numerous conversations, I feel like now that they have been connected to the campus community, they have become a part of the greater Rockford community and essentially adopted it as their own.”

Lastly, I asked Mykal if he felt that athletes should participate in the Day of Service next year or should it be modified or just scrapped in general. Mykal’s response was “I think it is something that definitely needs to continue but it should be modified. I feel like we should have more of a variety for service choices to help gather more student help that way. It feels like even more of a day of serving the community.”

Now after I did my part in the Day of Service, interviewed Mykal Brown, and asked around campus to just get a general feel for how people felt, I have concluded that students did enjoy giving back. Even more so, the athletes were ecstatic to give back and wanted to give more. There were the few complaints about the cold but for the most part, people were just happy to give back and hear the joy in people’s voices while they were being helped. I also agree with Mykal in the sense that this event should return but it should be more widespread with more ways to help out.

Overall, I feel that the Day of Service was an outstanding event that as most things do, could have some improvements but was still a raving success especially amongst the athletic population. Hopefully, it will continue so that we as a campus can show our gratitude to the community that accepts us while we further our academic and athletic careers.

Article by Maurice Williams