Spring on the York College campus

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Volunteerism Helps First-Year Student “Go to Bed Happy”

Volunteers at WAG theatre in Dallastown.

Volunteering through York College of Pennsylvania programs like SpartanServe has given Kelsey Shaffer ’25 a sense of community and belonging.

It took two of them to haul the wooden coffin. The foam archway was a little easier to manage, and the gravestone was a breeze by comparison. Wearing identical bright green shirts, Kelsey Shaffer ’25 and a small team of fellow York College of Pennsylvania students spent a Friday in October carrying props and costumes to the basement of the former Dallas Theatre in Dallastown, PA.

The volunteers were helping Weary Arts Group, a local performing arts organization, take one big step forward to transform the space into their new home. The project was just one of many across York County for SpartanServe, York College’s annual days of service.

The hard work left Shaffer with a sense of accomplishment and empowerment—the same way she always feels after volunteering. “It feels like I’ve done something with my day,” she says. “I can go to bed happy.”

Making change

Shaffer’s involvement in SpartanServe stems from her roles as a Promise Scholar under the Changemaker umbrella, a program focused on volunteering and service at York College.

Her volunteerism has taken her around the area, including these locations: the streets of York City, blocking a road and cheering on runners at the York White Rose Run; a community garden near Farquhar Park, where she planted flowers and spread mulch; and the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, checking the guest list for an art auction.

Volunteering has expanded her sense of community well beyond the York College campus. “Seeing how welcoming and open and nice everyone is was really cool,” she says. “The community is really great.”

Expanding her circle

As a volunteer, Shaffer doesn’t just connect with fellow students—she gets to network with York County community members. When she and her team left Weary Arts Group, they all signed a prop in silver marker to commemorate the experience. And she already has plans to go back. She’s chosen the group as a community partner to work and volunteer with in the spring.

A first-year Fine Art major, she’s sure there’s a lot she can learn volunteering with the theatre group. “It was really empowering,” she says. “Everyone was working together as a team, there was good communication, it was just a really fulfilling experience.”

Being a Changemaker and a member of the Promise program has made volunteerism a regular part of Shaffer’s life, and she’s grateful for it. It’s given her a sense of community and purpose, expanded her circle, and exposed her to people and places she might not have otherwise experienced.

Her world goes far beyond the York College campus boundaries. “It’s opened my view. This is a bigger place than what I thought York College was,” Shaffer says. “And I’m here making a difference. I belong.”