With so many volunteering and service opportunities, Boston College strives to embody the Jesuit ideal of “men and women for others.”
One particular student organization that stands out among the plethora of other volunteer and service clubs on campus is Students for Soldiers: a non-partisan service and advocacy group where members volunteer at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV) near Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston.
Founders Bejamin Lockhart, president and A&S ’15; Kevin Dory, vice president and A&S ’15; and Kevin Holbrook, secretary and LSOE ’15, began Students for Soldiers last year. Their faculty advisor, Michael Lorenz, who works for the Office of Residential Life, is a war veteran himself, and each of the founders has a personal connection to the cause they serve for on a regular basis.
The founders are excited for the future of their volunteer organization, and they are looking for new members to help maintain the club after they graduate. They have been pleased so far with the interest that has been shown in their organization in the past few weeks, espeicially during the annual Student Activities Fair, and hope to see an increase in the club’s membership as the academic year progresses.
“The organization was founded to give back to people who sacrifice so much and have given so much,” Lockhart said.
In addition to the club’s benefits for the veteran community, student members also gain valuable lessons and experiences through their service. One of the main goals of the organization is “to raise awareness, and to interact with veterans and learn about their experiences,” said Shane Gregoire, treasurer and A&S ’15.
Students for Soldiers currently has more than 50 members and stresses that any students remotely interested in service are welcome to join.
“We are really excited about getting more people involved,” Holbrook said.
Some activities that the group plans to do this year include volunteering at the NECHV, writing and sending Christmas cards overseas to active duty soldiers, in the Middle East running fundraising events for active soldiers and veterans, and having movie nights on campus. It also hopes to host a 5K run in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project this April.
Events that Students for Soldiers hosted last year included sending hundreds of Christmas cards to wounded veterans in a German hospital through a volunteer program with the Red Cross and handing out yellow ribbons at the Army football game to show support for active duty soldiers, war veterans, and military personnel.
NECHV provides rehabilitation, classes, and meals for veterans, among several other necessary services. Volunteering opportunities for Students for Soldiers members at the NECHV include “serving dinner there, teaching volunteer classes to veterans on basic programs such as Microsoft Word and other computer programs—something that any college student can teach—and the center is very open to other individualized community service opportunities,” Lockhart said.
Students in the club are encouraged to incorporate their hobbies into their volunteering. For example, any student who plays an instrument would be able to go and play music with veterans at the NECHV.
Providing opportunities for individualized volunteering is one way that Students for Soldiers stands out among the other volunteering organizations at BC. Students for Soldiers also welcomes all students who are interested in continuing any of their former veteran volunteer projects at BC, and students are encouraged to propose their ideas.
“We are open to anyone with new ideas as long as their project benefits veterans in some way,” Lockhart said.
Students for Soldiers is dedicated to its mission. “Serving veterans and serving people who have sacrificed so much and in some cases have given the ultimate sacrifice … is the least that we feel we can do to give back,” Holbrook said.
The group will be hosting an information session in the next two weeks, and a representative from the NECHV will be there to speak to volunteers.
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