Campus, community connections spark ALIVE Center growth

Caitlin Carter

Since 2003, the ALIVE – or A Local Information and Volunteer Exchange – Center has provided volunteer opportunities for the Bowling Green community.

But only in the last three years has the center, now called the WKU ALIVE Center, developed a key connection between the university and community that has made it more successful, said Aurelia Spaulding, communications and marketing coordinator for the center.

All of the events that are now hosted by the center were created post-2007 and are now more focused on student involvement than before, Spaulding said.

“I’m excited about the growth the center is experiencing,” Spaulding said. “We’re only able to grow because of the increased interest in students. They want to go out there and do something for the community.”

The center hosts events that focus on the betterment of campus and the community, Spaulding said.

This month, the center co-hosted “Love the Way You Lie,” a program focused on raising awareness of intimate partner violence, she said.

In April, the center hosts “CANstruct for a Cause,” which allows student groups to collect canned food items and then create a structure with those cans, Spaulding said.

“We got a great response from ‘CANstruct’ last spring,” Spaulding said.

The center was able to donate food from CANstruct to a local non-profit group called HOTEL INC, she said.

The center also offers many volunteer opportunities for students, Spaulding said.

There are 15 categories of opportunities, including education, seniors, animals and youth, she said.

Campbellsville senior Bekah Garr, a communications and marketing intern at the center, said she believes every student can make a difference with the center.

“Students should definitely check out the website, call or stop by and figure out how they can get involved in their community and how they can make a difference in Bowling Green while they’re here for their four years,” Garr said.

She said it’s important for students to be involved within the community because of the benefits gained for years to come.

“Personally being involved with the community can make a big difference in who you are and what you’re going to give back even as you get older,” she said. “You’re going to grow personally and be challenged.”

Community Engagement Coordinator Nadia DeLeon said she believes students don’t always understand everything the center has to offer.

Instead of strictly volunteering, students can be a part of service learning, DeLeon said.

Service learning is a course-based and credit-bearing experience that can’t be obtained in the classroom, she said.

“These things are more long-term and more meaningful,” she said. “Students aren’t just serving the community. They’re getting experience back that develops them academically and professionally.”