Helping hands

Senior Lisa Northrop was one of 34 college students from across North Carolina to receive the Community Impact Student Award and a volunteer recognition certificate of appreciation from Governor Beverly Perdue. The award  recognized Northrop’s volunteer efforts and her ability to inspire other students to get involved.

A senior psychology major, Northrop has been involved in numerous community service efforts during her four years at Wake Forest, including volunteering at a local elementary school helping prepare students for End-of-Grade testing.

She participated in three Wake Alternative Break service trips — volunteer trips during the usual spring break vacation week — traveling to New Orleans to help with hurricane rebuilding efforts and to Atlanta to assist with a girls after school program. Most recently, she organized and led a group of students traveling to West Virginia to serve with Habitat for Humanity.

On campus, Northrop volunteers with Project Pumpkin, a student-organized Halloween festival for Winston-Salem area children from local agencies and organizations.  Involved in the event since her first year on campus, she worked in public relations this year to encourage campus involvement and create press releases and press packets for area media.

“It’s my favorite volunteer experience,” Northrop said.  “We begin preparing in early September. All the effort is worthwhile when the big day finally arrives. It’s very rewarding to see so many happy faces and know that everything has gone well.”

She is also a member of the campus service fraternity.

Northrop spends six hours a week at the Ronald McDonald House helping with development, record keeping and organizing fundraisers. She has been a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house for four years. This semester, on Sundays, she spends time walking pets waiting for adoption at the Forever Friends animal shelter. “It’s relaxing,” she says. “And the animals are always happy to see you.”

Northrop says she tries to match her volunteer work with her course schedule and the community service needs that come through Wake Forest’s Volunteer Service Corps (VSC). VSC gathers requests from local organizations that need help and pairs them with willing students. For the upcoming VSC-sponsored Hunger and Homeless week, Northrop is helping to coordinate and publicize the event.

During her senior year, Northrop has made her community service work a priority. She is interested in pursuing a career in nonprofit work after graduation. Though she’s not sure of her plans, she is considering Americorps or graduate school in public affairs.

“I don’t think I would have volunteered as much as I have if I had I gone to another school,” Northrop says. “The small size and extensive resources at Wake Forest have provided me with service opportunities I likely wouldn’t have had at a larger school.”

The Community Impact Student Award is awarded by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of college and university leaders dedicated to promoting community service, service learning and civic engagement in higher education.

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