From its earliest days, Otterbein has been the kind of place that believes in giving back. Otterbein’s founding affiliation with the United Brethren Church (later the United Methodist Church) has strongly influenced its commitment to serving others and advancing the common good since its beginning in 1847.
One of the best ways to welcome new Otterbein students and help them understand their school’s values and principles is to invite them to plunge in, service first. The annual Fall Plunge, organized by the Center for Community Engagement, gives students the chance to get to know one another and why Otterbein values serving others in one impactful morning.
This fall, with support from the Kindness Matters at Otterbein initiative, this outstanding tradition grew to be one of its largest plunges in the event’s history. With added transportation options, not only were more first-year students able to participate, but more organizations, partners and neighbors were able to be served.
From 2016 to 2017, the Center for Community Engagement grew its Fall Plunge from its 20 sites served to 32 sites; and, 40 site leader volunteers grew to 63 to help organize the 400+ students who had pre-registered for this year’s event.
After encouragement from Otterbein President Krendl and some inspiration from Otterbein’s Cardinal Corp Leaders, the first year students hopped in busses and vans to scatter throughout Columbus, Westerville and campus to help with projects ranging from gardening to painting, to chores like organizing and cleaning.
Just as important as the help they provided, students were asked to reflect on why their service mattered, the benefits of their involvement and what they discovered about themselves by participating.
One-hundred percent of the students who responded to a post-event survey said they were glad they participated in the Fall Plunge. Students said they appreciated “learning the value of hard work,” “how their work has the potential to help others,” and “you can make a difference no matter how small.”
Students were also invited to complete a sentence asking them to consider why they think kindness matters. Some of their responses included the following:
Kindness matters because: everyone deserves to be treated fairly.
Kindness matters because: no matter how different you are from another person, kindness is the most important thing.
Kindness matters because: it’s the only thing that can change the world.
Kindness matters because: we all need to feel that we have someone we could count on.
Kindness matters because: the only way to change the world is to start with just one person.
A Kindness Matters Tip: You can help, too. The 2018 Spring Plunge, scheduled for DATE, will be open to Otterbein employees, alumni and Westerville community teams. To learn more on how to get involved or to support the annual plunges, send an email to OtterbeinKindness@otterbein.edu.
With a number of programs and activities designed to help first year students get to know their new University community — Otterbein added another friendly connection this year — a warm welcome to students’ new home from the friendly neighbors who make Westerville the perfect place to live.
When Otterbein approached Rick Bannister, Westerville resident and founder of the “Westerville Neighborhood Bridges” program, the answer was, ‘yes, of course, we can make that happen!’ Bannister’s motto, after all, is “kindness is cool.”
Bannister issued the call to neighbors and members of four area churches: Church of the Master, Church of the Messiah, Heritage Christian Church and St. Paul’s Church through his online kindness connecting bridge. Westerville Neighborhood Bridges is an online platform that bridges community need and individual requests for help with area citizens who are ready and able to answer that call.
More than 600 personal messages of welcome from members of the Westerville community were shared with entering Otterbein students at their First Year Convocation.
A Kindness Matters Tip: It’s easy to make a difference! To learn more about Westerville Neighborhood Bridges, visit: westervillebridges.org.
What students learn and experience at Otterbein has the power to shape them for the rest of their lives. Among the University’s core values and principles, all students learn about the value of advancing the common good.
Otterbein invited graduating members of the Class of 2017 to take a moment on their big day to pause and consider what gifts they had shared as Otterbein students and why kindness matters.
Watch this two-minute video to learn a little more about why Otterbein students care about kindness.
A Kindness Matters Tip: Why does what you do have the potential to make a difference? Stop and think about who you share kindness with and why it’s important.