Melissa Boyd-Colvin




volunteer, civic engagement, philanthropy, student leaders, servant leaders


Every Saturday I make a difference in a child’s life. I am not a surgeon, a firefighter, or a police officer. I do not use surgical sutures to mend a wound, a firehose to put out fires, or courage and precision to keep towns and cities safe. I use my two hands, my broad smile, and my beating heart to aid children who need me…I am a volunteer. In one way or another, most people have benefitted from the helping hands of volunteers. Some rely on volunteers to help make parks cleaner, reaching a fundraising goal easier, or staying at a hospital happier. Others rely on volunteers to quiet the continuous rumbling of a hungry stomach, wondering when they will have their next meal. Helping Hands is a self-designed program that aims to answer two essential questions: “What motivates individuals to volunteer?” and “What can be done to increase engagement in volunteerism?” As a leadership minor, I recognize and appreciate the abundance of opportunities that are available for University of Rhode Island students to gain leadership roles in many organizations. Tour Guiding, Housing and Residential Life, URI Orientation, Student Senate, and Student Organizations Leadership Consultants (SOLC) are amongst the most well-known organizations on campus. I have also recognized that there is less of an interest in service-based organizations like Civic Engagement Leaders, URI S.A.V.E.S., and Alpha Phi Omega when compared to the previously mentioned groups. It is my belief that in order to be a great leader, one must first recognize the duty to serve others. Although most student leaders would consider themselves to be servant leaders, the correlation between interest and dedication to service do not match. Over the course of my honors project, I created an interview-based blog, served on the Rainville Servant Leadership Award committee, planned a volunteer fair, and attended an Alternative Spring Break Trip. These experiences have aided in my research and recognition of what motivates individuals to serve and how the rates of volunteers can be increased. My hope is that the information that I have gathered can be utilized by student groups and volunteer-based organizations to recruit individuals to their projects.