The Silver Lake College Student United Way, starting its third year, has tripled its membership since last year.
This membership increase is due to the efforts of its president, sophomore Abby Gallenberger, and vice president, sophomore Michele Engelbrecht.
They were inspired by attending the recent Student United Way Leadership Retreat in Washington, D.C., which was made possible by the United Way Manitowoc County and Silver Lake College. There, they learned about leadership skills, collaboration, club management, member recruitment, professional development and global interaction.
Under their leadership, the group has grown from 10 active members to 30.
“It was important to start talking to the freshmen about joining right away,” Engelbrecht said. “We set up a booth at the Involvement Fair. I handed out fliers in the cafeteria and put fliers in student mailboxes. The nice thing about Silver Lake College being a small campus is that you know everyone and it makes communication easier.”
Family and community companionship has been a recent focus of the Silver Lake College Student United Way.
“Last year, we came up with the idea for a Coffee and Canvas painting event for the Manitowoc Senior Center. It was an absolute success at the center, as well as with the students. We’ve had waiting lists for almost every class since,” Gallenberger said. “Senior citizens have the opportunity to work with Silver Lake College students one on one.”
When United Way statistics pointed to the rise in the elderly suicide rate in Manitowoc County, they became even more committed to their initiative.
“The important thing isn’t the final art piece, but the act of creating and the social bonding,” Engelbrecht said. “The most important thing is that everyone is enjoying themselves.”
In addition to Coffee and Canvas events, other upcoming projects include raking leaves in fall in conjunction with the Domestic Violence Center and activities at Felician Village senior living community, including art therapy and themed parties.
When Gallenberger was in Washington, D.C., she met members from the Student United Way Panama chapter, who invited her to participate in their largest fundraiser and board meeting.
It was always her dream to travel the world, and she is now able to start doing that with sponsorships to cover the cost of transportation. The trip, which includes helping with the group’s golf tournament fundraiser, is set for late September.
“I am blessed to be able to start following my dream and improving Silver Lake College's community with many new ideas and opportunities. One day, I hope to make positive changes in the world,” Gallenberger said.
The group will elect a new treasurer, secretary and designer on Oct. 10. Silver Lake College students interested in join the Student United Way can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For photos of the group’s recent Coffee and Canvas, please click here.