Nobody expected a global pandemic, but everyone felt the impact. COVID-19 caused a major dip in mental health and decreased motivation for community engagement.
Fortunately, students at West Chester University (WCU) took action to rebuild the community, and their efforts deserve recognition.
WCU’s positive psychology professor, Mr. Uhlenbrock, says eudaimonic happiness brings a longer lasting feeling of “living north of neutral” — always returning to a state of happiness. To achieve eudaimonic happiness, do good for others and make people happy.
Third-year WCU student Simon Crew created a “Meals for Medics” program where volunteers could sign up to buy and deliver meals to the Pottstown Hospital employees at a discounted rate. In an article published to The Mercury on April 16, 2020, Crew explained how his program served frontline workers during the pandemic while also supporting local small businesses.
Meals for Medics served the community by allocating resources to two areas affected by the pandemic: frontline workers and local small business owners. Crew took the weight of the concerns in the community upon his own shoulders in order to give back to a community that already gave so much to him.
First-year honors student Lauren Kozicki compiled a list of websites to help send a card to hospital patients or frontline workers. The WCU Honors Student Association (HSA) took advantage of Kozicki’s list and sent out tons of cards to spread positivity.
Kozicki’s idea to send cards to hospital patients and frontline workers brought joy to those stuck in the middle of the darkness of the pandemic. The project cost Kozicki nothing, yet left such a substantial impact on the recipients.
Furthemore, HSA has committed nearly 1100 hours towards community service since mid-March, the start of the national lockdown. The Community Service Coordinator of HSA Carlyn Crisi said that “the Honors Student Association has been able to give back to the community and other organizations outside West Chester.” She explained all of the service projects members contributed to and what a positive impact WCU students have made in their communities.
Some may argue that students play a detrimental role in the spread of COVID-19. After all, the West Chester borough had not declared a state of emergency until a major spike in COVID-19 cases among college-aged students.
According to 6ABC News, the typical college student demographic made up 68.4% of COVID-19 cases in West Chester. WCU students often appear in the news for the wrong reasons during the pandemic, but do not forget about the students who contribute time, effort and resources in rebuilding the local community.
WCU students like Crew, Kozicki, the HSA community and all others who have devoted themselves towards rebuilding the community do not fall into the same group as the students who ignore the State of Emergency protocol. Just as the West Chester community encompasses a diverse population, the WCU student population includes students with all different backgrounds and motives.
With a State of Emergency still in order, the community needs help more than ever. Just like the previously mentioned WCU students, you can create a positive impact in your community, as well.
Reach out to local service organizations, hospitals, even your neighbors and see where you can help. If you want to put your entrepreneurial skills to the test, see what sort of project or program you can design to help your community.
Do not forget the major influence you have on the people around you. You have the power to spread positivity to others and give back to a community that has given so much to you.
Ben Naroden is a Communication Studies major with a minor in Psychology. BN914369@wcupa.edu
6 ABC News. (2020). West Chester, Pa. Declares State of Emergency After Spike in COVID-19
Cases. Retrieved from https://6abc.com
Abdalla, Cohen, Ettman, Galea, Sampson, Vivier. Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in
US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Network Open.
Brandt. (2020). OJR Grad’s Website Pairs Meals for Pottstown Hospital Workers With Local
Restaurants. The Mercury. Retrieved from https://www.pottsmerc.com