The Center for Service and Learning, also known as Y-Serve, embodies BYU’s motto of “Enter to learn, go forth and serve.”
Y-Serve consists of 68 student-run programs that reach out to the community. They have programs that range from reaching out to the aging population, mentoring individuals from different age groups and populations and helping youth and adults with disabilities. There are even on-campus programs to accommodate students without cars.
“Our mission is to help provide service opportunities for every student on campus and to distill in their hearts and minds the desire to give lifelong service,” said operations supervisor Janine Green. “It’s not just about the here and now.”
Volunteers aren’t hard to come by with Y-Serve. There are 220 student leaders and 2,300 to 2,400 student volunteers. Green said the number of students they have is phenomenal. The students don’t have extra time on their hands, but they know it will add meaning to their life. They don’t have to serve but come at their own free will.
“I can’t tell you how many times a day I see a student walk through the door and say, ‘Tell me about this place; I feel like I need to be here,'” Green said. “It’s like a spiritual invitation.”
When asked what his favorite part of the job was, Casey Peterson, director of the Center for Service and Learning, said it is “definitely seeing the students’ lives change. Some become grounded socially, some are struggling spiritually and some discover that, as they serve, they do have a testimony.”
Green has had opportunities to connect with students. “One student came to me and said, ‘I need to serve, because I don’t want to have a selfish semester,'” Green said. “I got goosebumps.”
Service hasn’t just added meaning to volunteers’ lives but has helped them discover where their interests lie. Through their service, some have changed their majors and career goals.
Organizations helped by Y-Serve are appreciative of what they’ve been offered. McKaye Treanor, development director at Heritage School, says Y-Serve volunteers give students something outside of treatment that they can look forward to.
“It helps the kids tremendously to have somebody who’s not being paid to be with them, someone who actually cares about them and wants to develop a relationship with them,” Treanor said. “Volunteers are excellent examples of being able to achieve and just being good people.”
Y-Serve has received recognition for its efforts. “Partners from all over the spectrum drop in,” Peterson said. “This morning someone was here from D.C. looking at our service structure, and Church leaders like to drop in and check things out. It’s fun to see all those interactions.”