BYU faculty, students speak out about scope of service in Provo


Every Friday, Amanda LeStarge leaves campus and goes with her friends to Provo Rehab. Along with her fellow BYU students, she sings and dances, making the day a little brighter for those interned at the center.

“I love Y-Serve; it’s the best thing in the world,” LeStarge said. “When you’re in college, you spend all of your time focused on yourself with studying and dating and everything. But when you start to serve, you develop charity, which is what Jesus Christ was all about.”

Amanda LeStarge (far right) serves up to 15 hours every week in the community. (courtesy of Y-Serve)
Amanda LeStarge (far right) serves up to 15 hours every week in the community. (Photo courtesy Y-Serve)

LeStarge, a nursing major from Glendale, is just one of the many students and faculty who try to lead lives of service and learning, giving up much of their time and energy to help those in need in the surrounding community.

“I have a busy life,” LeStarge said. “But when I serve, I find that I have time to do everything else I need to do.”

LeStarge serves as a council member of Y-Serve, BYU’s service organization, spending ten to fifteen hours each week serving those at Provo Rehab and throughout the community.

Y-Serve, officially known as the Center for Service and Learning, is BYU’s flagship service program.  According to the Center, more than 22,000 BYU students volunteered a combined 121,957 hours of service during 2011. The economic impact of those hours of service is estimated by the United Way of Utah County to be over $2.5 million in the local community.

“Y-Serve is what BYU stands for, what it is,” LeStarge said.

Phyllis Jensen, BYU’s Coordinator of Community Relations, says the widespread nature of the service rendered would surprise most people.

“It’s something new every day,” Jensen said. “For a university, we’re pretty involved in the community.”

Jensen personally serves on the board of directors for Community Action Services and Food Bank, Provo’s Ministerial Association, and Downtown Provo Inc., an association of local downtown business owners.

“If BYU can do something to help, we’re more than happy to help,” Jensen said.

That help includes the BYU Workplace Campaign, an annual fund drive for the United Way. Every September since 1965, faculty and staff at BYU have donated to the United Way, which in turn donates the money to more than 30 local charities and agencies. In 2012, BYU raised over $235,000 — more than any business in Utah County.

“We’ve raised over $2 million in the 16 years I’ve been involved with it,” Jensen said. “And that’s just the time I’ve been here.  This campaign has been going on since 1965 when Geneva Steel started it. I have no clue how much money it has raised in the close-to 50 years we’ve been doing it.”

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