Loras Students Learn New Lessons Volunteering During May Term

Students in Introduction to Social Welfare gained hands-on experience this May Term by spending a day volunteering at Hills and Dales in Dubuque.

Typically, a part of the January Term curriculum, the Introduction to Social Welfare class focuses on the foundational aspects of social welfare, the profession of social work and some of the populations professionals in the field can work. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Loras students were the first group to volunteer at Hills and Dales since March 2020.

Hills and Dales is a not-for-profit human services organization that provides services to children and young adults with disabilities throughout Eastern Iowa.

Students have worked with the Special Olympics winter games supporting individuals with disabilities downhill ski, snowshoe, and ice skate in past years. However, since the College adjusted the schedule to move the January Term to May, students needed a new volunteer location.

“Hills and Dales has been a long-time partner with the social work program providing internships, field placements, part-time jobs, and hiring our graduates,” Nancy Fett (‘ 90), L.M.S.W., associate professor of social work, said. “This year, I sent a request to agencies in the community, and their human resources director, Carol Boge, returned my email almost immediately. She was even helpful in providing learning modules for our one student who was completely online.”

The experience included taking with professionals at Hills and Dales to learn about their experiences in the field and working on exterior projects to beautify the grounds.

Jaylen Cangas (‘ 22) found a great deal of value in the experience.

“The service day at Hills and Dales was a challenging learning experience, and I am extremely grateful to have been a part of it. I believe that Hills and Dales’s work directly embodies the unique purpose and goal of social work. Its mission is to build meaningful lives for people with disabilities and to offer services to help them achieve success in the community. I feel very blessed to take a class that may not directly go towards my major but gives the opportunity to learn and grow as a person in both the classroom and the community,” she said.

For Matt Connolly (‘ 22), his time volunteering helped him discover a desire to work with children that may impact his path moving forward.

“I interacted with the kids that helped me, and I had a really enjoyable time,” he said. “My experience working with the kids was so rewarding because it is something that I rarely do and brought back some of the joy and curiosity that I used to have as a child. The kids were so intelligent, even though the oldest was only five years old. I had such a fun time, in fact, that as soon as I went home from class, I applied to be a childcare assistant at Hills and Dales.”