The WFU Volunteer Service Corps was founded in 1989 by a small group of students. The program was originally housed in the Chaplain’s office and was supervised by a part-time “volunteer” coordinator. Henry Cooper (’54) volunteered over 1500 hours as the first part-time coordinator. Students Libbey Bell, Matt Rubello, and Mary Beth Torbett were among the first student leaders of the growing organization. Through their leadership, a constitution was written and the organization was chartered with the following mission:
The Volunteer Service Corps exist to instill in Wake Forest University students, faculty, and staff a commitment to humanitarian values and civic responsibility. Through the development of personal relationships, we will foster respect and understanding between WFU and the wider community. We affirm the role of community involvement as an integral part of an individual’s educational experience. We are committed to placing people in meaningful volunteer experience that expose them to realities outside of the college environment. We are dedicated to provide a structure that facilitates volunteerism, supports and motivates volunteers, and results in close relationships with community agencies.
Funding was somewhat limited as all funds came from the Chaplin’s budget. In 1990 the University applied for and received a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation for $122,000 to fund the program. This funding included one full-time professional position, office furniture and a budget for community programs. Beginning in 1995, funding became part of the university’s operational budget.
The VSC grew under the leadership of Betsy Greer, the first full time coordinator. By 1993, VSC involved over 600 students and had programs in over 25 community based organizations. That same year, the program moved from the Chaplain’s office to the Office of Student Development. It was felt that the program fit in with objectives of the Student Development office. The move has been a positive one and has helped to engage a more diverse student involvement.
Though the university motto, Pro Humanitate, serves as the foundation for a service ethic across campus, the VSC has been an important corner stone for the institutional commitment to service initiatives. In 1994, the VSC sponsored the first international service trip to Calcutta, India. Since then, the Office of Volunteer Services has helped to establish several other service trips.
Within the past decade the VSC has had a tremendous impact on the campus and its extended community. Today the organization is seeking to recruit and place every student as a volunteer. With over 55 community partner agencies and 35 partnering student organizations, they are well on their way to reaching this ambitious goal.
To celebrate their first 10 years of service, the VSC had a motto contest. The new motto was unveiled in February 2000 as:
“A moment of service, a lifetime of difference”