For Bethany College’s First-Year Honors students, stepping forward as leaders on campus and in their everyday lives has been a theme all year.

After the college went online, students took their service initiatives off campus and into their home communities, creating projects to fill needs in safe and responsible ways.

From West Virginia to Australia, the students serve as role models, making an impact in the lives of those around them.

“I know that sometimes it is difficult for me to stay positive and I sometimes feel isolated, so I wanted to do this project to remind our community that we are not alone and that we are stronger together,” said Natalia Chavez-Brown, of Frederick, Md.

Whether it is hosting a positivity campaign online or helping to fix a local church’s gravel parking lot, every student has helped make an impact.

Several students have started online, social media informational, educational, and supportive campaigns — reaching out to those experiencing domestic violence, mental health issues, or rejection because of being an LGBTQ teen.

“I chose to do an awareness post about domestic violence due to the dangerous reality millions of people around the world are stuck in due to quarantines,” said Kaitlyn Adkins of Weirton, W.Va. “I wanted to shed some light on this pressing issue, as well as give victims a way to find help, and a way for supporters to donate.”

First Year Honors Service CardsOthers have made cloth face masks for those who need them, helped to tutor AP students who may need extra help with their exams, written Easter cards for nursing home residents, volunteered to help move furniture, and delivered Easter baskets and books for middle-school children.

“This service project has been extremely rewarding and I feel so good helping others,” said Alexia Chavez-Brown, of Frederick, Md. “I loved using my Spanish and teaching skills to help the students.”

Lauren Starr, of Venetia, Pa., chose to write Easter cards for nursing home residents who couldn’t have visitors.

“They deserve to know that there are people out there who do care about them, and they need a little happiness during these odd times,” she said.

It is clear that these young Bethanians are proud of the work that they are doing for their communities during this pandemic.

Ian Nelson, of Monongahela, Pa., for example, has worked in Charleroi, Pa., to deliver grocery store gift cards to those in need.

First Year Honors Service LGBTQ“It is truly humbling to help this cause,” he said. “I am incredibly proud to be a part of [Charleroi’s] effort, and I will continue to help in any way I can during this crisis.”

Sophie Morey, of Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia, built a book swap to help families and children in her neighborhood in Australia, and had noticeable results with her project.

“By the end of the first week, I noticed that some of the books I put in had been exchanged for other books,” Morey said. “I am very thrilled that people are actually using it, and it is serving some purpose in the community.”

Dr. Debra Hull, director of the Honors Program at Bethany College says, “We are proud of the way our students have grown into the challenges of this pandemic to find meaningful and creative ways to serve in their communities. This time is not easy for anyone, yet the honors students have reached out to bring understanding and comfort to so many around the world.”

Adam Himmelrick is a First-Year Honors student from Weirton, W.Va.