Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make a person’s day, and Yalitza Melgar believes it’s through the eyes that one can see appreciation for those they have helped.
Melgar is the president of a service organization at Penn State called ServeState. As one of the original founders of the club, she said she watched it grow from “a baby” into what it has become today, and felt very lucky to be a part of its developing process.
ServeState, founded in May 8, 2014, prides itself for its reputation of providing service without limits. Among their list of projects are activities such as visiting retirement centers to play with residents on game night, working with Meals on Wheels to package and deliver food, interacting with students in LifeLink PSU to engage with them in a safe and sociable setting and doing cleanup at the Arboretum by raking leaves or repainting benches.
“We want to impact other people’s lives,” Melgar (senior-psychology) said. “We aim to make a difference in the community through service and philanthropic events.”
The organization started off with 11 active members. As of now, there are 111 active members, including alumnus. They welcome anyone who has a passion for their community and wishes to help those in need.
Melgar remembers seeing newly recruited students walk through the doors to join ServeState. She said it made her feel hopeful because it taught her that there were many people out there who felt the same way she did.
“I’m speechless of how much [ServeState] has grown in just three years,” Melgar said. “We have such a great foundation at Penn State and people here are very committed to what they want to do in life. A lot of our members are dedicated and come to me with ideas. They want to do more to help the club branch out.”
Vanessa Cao, service coordinator of ServeState, became interested in joining the club when she was a freshman. She had done volunteer work in high school and knew that she wanted to be a part of a close nit group of people. The small size of ServeState appealed to her because she felt it made it more possible for members to build stronger connections with each other.
Cao credits ServeState with teaching her many valuable skills that she believes will help her after graduation. She said it pushes students to communicate with people they normally wouldn’t have felt comfortable speaking to. Even if someone is quiet, ServeState encourages them to be more outgoing, Cao said.
“(ServeState) opens doors to different places you probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise," Cao (sophomore-neurobiology) said. “Any job, internship, or career you decide to take on requires you to talk to people and this club forces you to communicate whether you like it or not.”
While Cao hasn’t had a chance to calculate this semester’s total, she said the club completed over 250 hours of volunteer work last semester, which doesn’t include individual member hours.
This year, ServeState connected with three more organizations, expanded a lot of their service to the State College bureau area and now works with children downtown at Discovery Space.
Miranda Bromley, a current member of ServeState, said she plans to continue engaging in volunteer work after graduation. She said this club has provided her with opportunities to do work that can change a person’s life, which has been a great experience for her.
“I love this club so much,” Bromley (junior-psychology) said. “I’ve met some great people and have made a lot of friends doing this. We get to do a lot and really make a lot of difference within the community.”