Revamped Bonner Leader Program

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Photo By Grace Cavanaugh

Emily Coffey ~ Staff Writer

  The University of Lynchburg has an interactive and collaborative volunteer service program known as the Bonner Leader Program available to students through an application process.

     The new Graduate Assistant of the Bonner Leader Program, Jeffrey Snow, said the purpose of the program is so “students have access to education and an opportunity to serve.”

     According to Snow, the program is in its 16th year and that there are 15 new first year students participating in it. This year’s theme is homelessness and the focus of the program is to tackle different areas of poverty. Students must demonstrate a passion for serving and social justice as well as being eligible for work study in order to join. Snow shared that there is an open application for incoming first years.

     According to him, students are able to learn how to work with people with other majors and those off campus by being in the program. Snow also said students should join because people are confined to their own bubble. Snow said that students are able to interact with people who go here and have different backgrounds and experience.

     Snow enjoys the sense of community with those in the program, but also with other community partners. He said, “Take all the opportunities for what they are. Life moves fast.”

     Junior Bonner member, Christina Walsh said that “the purpose of the program is to provide students with the opportunity to do work that they are passionate about while also providing nonprofits with volunteers. Bonner serves the community through different organizations and the students are able to have an income while also volunteering within the community.”

     According to Walsh, students should join the program because it is multidimensional. The six common commitments of the program are social justice, civic engagement, spiritual exploration, community building, an international perspective, and diversity. Walsh said, “Through these commitments the possibilities of service and its impact are endless regardless of your personal skill sets or passions within service.”

     She shared that students should also join because they are able to create connections with different service partners and gain experience. Walsh said, “Another reason that students should want to join Bonner if they have any interest in service work is that the Bonner leaders and leadership team function like a family; Bonner is truly a home away from home.”

     By joining the program students are able to learn work ethics and communication. According to her, to be successful students must be able to commit their time and follow through with those commitments whether it is through hours or a task at a service site.

      Walsh said when she first joined, it was a two year program with individuals applying to start in their sophomore year. However, the program is now four years with students applying in their freshman year. She has learned that the work she does is not just for fun, but also to base her life around. Walsh has also learned something new every day whether it be conversing with peers or being out in the community.

      Walsh joined the program because she has always done service and needed to feel generative in order to do well, but she also needed a job. She enjoys hearing different stories because those who are in the program will meet many different people with different backgrounds. Her favorite project with the program has been going to Brookhill Farm every week and working with an individual with disabilities through a therapeutic riding program.

     Walsh said, “If you’re in for the commitment and willing to do the work, you will never regret joining.”