Ava Compagnoni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
V.IRTU.E (Virtual Ursinus Service) is the newest addition to Ursinus’ clubs and extracurricular activities. Founded and organized by Abigail Coachi ’22, along with co-founders Kathryn Bjorklund ’21 and Zenya Yanoff ’22, Virtue has been able to reach out to various organizations and allow Ursinus students access to community service virtually. According to its mission statement: “It shall be the purpose, objective, or mission of V.IRTU.E to provide a completely virtual, student run community service program; making service more accessible to students from all majors and interests around campus.” Virtue is the first completely student-run club to offer virtual community-service opportunities.
Coachi came up with Virtue last year in November while struggling to perform community service(s) due to COVID-19. She reached out to Bjorklund and Yanoff during winter break to start V.IRTU.E, and they have been working tirelessly ever since. These three young women have been avid about serving their community for many years. They reached amazing lengths with V.IRTU.E in such a short period of time, having already partnered with three organizations.
“I thought it was such a great idea with the stress of a pandemic, let alone with classes and other curriculars. Applications can be very stressful, it would make the club more approachable going to your peers rather than an authority for community service,” Bjorklund said. Yanoff is determined to make sure her peers know that the V.IRTU.E club is approachable and welcoming. “We want to come across to the student body as a community service group that is accessible to them and to bring the Ursinus community together without being together,” Yanoff stated.
Virtue’s first act of community service was with Veteran’s Affair Center, a hospital for veterans. The local community has neglected to reach out to them, so with the help of the newest members of Virtue, over a hundred veterans received birthday cards for the month of February. Veteran’s Affair honors American veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. Four of the veterans received personalized cards for their 100th birthday this February.
Virtue’s next act of community service involved having members write gratitude letters to healthcare heroes that have been risking their lives to protect and keep healthy our community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These healthcare heroes include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospital staff, first responders, and surgeons. Small gestures like this can make a big difference to the heroes who have been facing and experiencing unfathomable moments at every turn. V.IRTU.E will be sending these letters to various local hospitals in the area.
Virtue’s main focus this semester is zooming bi-weekly with kids from Kids Need More, an organization that helps kids with cancer. Founded in 2013, after the American Cancer Society cut funds to camps and programs to put it towards cancer research, Kids Need More is dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and families coping with cancer and serious illness. V.IRTU.E hopes to build a community of support through peer mentoring, friendly visits, camp experiences, retreats, and daily events. Zoom calls with the kids will be occupied for fun activities and chatting, as that is currently the best outlet for kids to deal with their stressors, similar to Ursinus’ students dealing with their own. More importantly, the children are going through this pandemic in their very own way while handling their illness on top of it. The Zoom meetings are designed to engage with the kids and make them smile a little more.
This is only the beginning for V.IRTU.E. “Once we have reached stability, we are going to start creating donation drives, and have students participate in in-person community service following COVID guidelines. A lot of programs for community service are focused on an application process and we wanted to create a club where students can express their voice and join in with ideas for community service,” says Coachi. Virtue welcomes anyone to join, across different sports, majors, and interests. Even remote students who can provide their questions and opinions during meetings. There is equal opportunity for all.
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