Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Student Affairs

April 25, 2007

Johnathan Karch
<b>Ball State senior Johnathan Karch has volunteered nearly 500 hours of his time to help area students and to collect food for the needy. </b>
Volunteering in the community takes time, effort and compassion. But even with the pressures of college life, students at Ball State are working hard as volunteers to bridge the gap between community and campus.

Johnathan Karch, a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in communication studies, recently received Ball State's Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Community Service by exemplifying exceptional commitment to volunteering throughout his college career.

"Through my whole life, I have never asked for anything for helping people out," Karch said. "The only thing I have ever wanted was a smile and a thank you from those I help. Having Ball State recognize me with this award is the highest honor I could ever receive from Ball State, next to a diploma."

Through Student Voluntary Services (SVS), more than 2,000 Ball State students participate annually in at least 100 local services agencies. By working within the community, participants build both leadership and interpersonal skills.

Karch was nominated for the award after working as a program coordinator for SVS and volunteering nearly 500 hours during his college years. As a young boy, he became involved in service after working at a soup kitchen for many years with his father and brothers.

He is now especially involved with the Community Alliance to Promote Education, Motivate Our Minds and Lend a Hand Day.

"I work for these projects because they help children or the elderly," Karch said. "I enjoy helping those who have a hard time helping themselves."

Helen Stephenson, the office coordinator for Student Life and SVS, has known Karch for four years and has been impressed with his volunteer spirit.

"I have always found him to bring a positive and enthusiastic attitude when he enters the office, which often spills over to his volunteers, making for a more successful experience on every level," Stephenson said. "Johnny is one of the first ones to volunteer and assist when needed, and you can always count on him to follow through with any projects he undertakes."

As for Karch, he hopes Ball State students' commitment to community service in Muncie will continue to grow.

"If we can show students that there are ways to help those in the neighborhoods next to them, the commitment would grow substantially," Karch said. "If students could expand their boundaries past Ball State's campus, they could see a city that they can participate in and change. By accepting that Muncie is as much their responsibility as it is of local residents, students can make changes so that everyone can enjoy the beauty this city has to offer."

Because of students such as Karch, Ball State was named to the inaugural President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognized college students, faculty and staff for building a culture of community service and civic engagement.

The award was presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

In addition to the awards, the Corporation for National and Community Service released its annual report about volunteerism among the nation's college students. In 2005, the volunteer efforts of Indiana's college students ranked 13th nationally, while the state's general adult population ranked 29th, according to the report.

Also in 2005, the volunteer rate among college students was 30.2 percent, compared to 28.8 percent for the general adult population nationally, according to the corporation's report.

By Jennifer Strempka