Since 2003 alumni have volunteered during GVSU Move-In Week in late August, welcoming Lakers to campus and helping them carry boxes and bags to their new home.
Fall semester 2020 needed to look different because of COVID-19 safety precautions. While assisting with Move-In was not an option, it was still important to provide opportunities for alumni to connect with and help students.
“Community is as important as ever,” said Chris Barbee ’88, director of Alumni Relations. “We still wanted to use fall as a time to welcome the newest Lakers into the Grand Valley family.”
Because volunteers would not receive a Grand Valley T-shirt in-person, a commemorative 2020 shirt was designed and sold. Each purchase included a $10 gift to the Student Support Fund, which helps students experiencing unexpected hardships continue their education. Barbee said this proved a good avenue for alumni who live out-of-state to show their support. T-shirts were purchased by alumni in 19 different states and a total of $2,220 was raised for students.
Alumni were also encouraged to participate in a new initiative called Project Pen Pals. Using the traditional “pen-pal” method, students and alumni, who both opted-in to the program, were matched based on how often and by what means they would like to be contacted. Alumni were asked to send notes, texts and/or emails of encouragement throughout the semester to their student pen pal. More than 250 alumni have agreed to participate.
“With an academic year unlike any before, we are grateful for alumni being willing to help students in new and various ways,” Barbee said.