Over the past summer, senior citizens in the Franklin county community have been banding together to make a difference in those around them, thanks to the new GIVE Back. GO Forward program at The Ohio State University. From helping children with their reading, providing families with meals, to creating an online application form, over 100 seniors have donated their time to community partners, bettering the lives of others.
The GIVE Back. GO Forward. program is coordinated through a partnership with Ohio State and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. This program offers Franklin county residents age 60 or older the opportunity to earn a voucher for three undergraduate credit hours in exchange for completing 100 or more community service hours at a designated community partner within one year. Aligning with President Drake’s 2020 vision, the program offers a new way to increase access and affordability for Ohio residents.
The program has provided 100 seniors the opportunity to volunteer at three different community partners: the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, and St. Stephen’s Community House. Over 10 credit-hour vouchers have been awarded, with over 3,000 volunteer hours completed. The voucher recipients include:
John Row, Columbus Metropolitan Library
Row has volunteered with the library for over five years since he retired from his job at the South High Branch. He spends his time working with the ‘Reading Buddies’ program, where he partners with children in kindergarten through third grade to improve their reading skills. Row plans to give his credit hour voucher to one of the ‘volun-teens’ he worked with at the library, who plans to use the voucher to begin his Buckeye experience, majoring in political science.
“Volunteering is a big part of who I am. It’s given me the opportunity to meet new people, make a difference and have fun now that I’m retired,” Row said. “I love the kids I read with, my neighbors and most importantly my community.”
Patricia Myers, Mid-Ohio Foodbank
Myers has been a dedicated Foodbank volunteer since 2012, volunteering as a way to do something good for the community and herself. On a daily basis, she helps keeps the bank’s shelves stocked and organized, helping clients find exactly what they need. Myers plans on giving the voucher to her granddaughter Stephanie so she can finish her degree in early and middle childhood education.
“Volunteering and education are some of the most important things in my life, so the [GIVE Back. GO Forward] program was perfect for me,” Myers said.
Harvey Shaw, St. Stephen’s Community House
Shaw began volunteering at the community house in 2014, after discovering the center while working as a pastor across the street at the House of God Church. He desired for his congregation to be move involved in the community and decided to see what kind of support St. Stephen’s needed. Over the past three years, Shaw has given back by helping in the food pantry and developing the organizations online application form. He plans on using the voucher to go back and further his studies in family counseling.
“Volunteering and this program have helped open another door for me I didn’t know was possible.”
For more information on the GIVE Back. GO Forward. program, visit the program webpage.