Process of “”actively listening to the community””

February 27, 2015

West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) has a long history of service with the local community that has resulted in an open and communicative relationship between the WVWC Community Service Center and Upshur County community agencies. Student volunteers from Wesleyan s campus are welcome and highly valued at agencies that oftentimes rely on student volunteers in ways that utilize student s communication skills, leadership talents and problem-solving techniques.

As the service initiative at Wesleyan grows stronger with a growing number of community collaborations, it is important for students to fully understand the unique aspects of how a rural community identifies and responds to community need. The traditional focus of our campus-based service programs has been on service “”for others.”” While that has been successful in the past, there is now an intentional effort underway at West Virginia Wesleyan to begin a process of actively listening to the community. This will allow the people from community agencies and the Wesleyan Community Service Center to chart a strategic course that will foster greater understanding of the community.

Community Partnership Process

    Conduct interviews with community leaders such as the mayor and chief of police of Buckhannon, the president of Chamber of Commerce, health professionals, county commissioners, and religious leaders.

Devise list of questions for community leaders in regard to community history, college relations, economic development, crime statistics, identified problems.

Strategize on a “”problem-solving”” approach that expands and enhances the role that college student volunteers take in establishing long-range project goals.

Offer the community leaders feedback and assessment strategies that are responsive to community resources and the potential of college student volunteers.

Promote an integrative learning and developmental strategy for students and their community partners.

The spectrum of service programs embraced by Wesleyan students is varied and offers students a number of opportunities to work closely with agency supervisors. The success of the community partnership process will depend on the service and the subsequent knowledge/skills and experiences that the students and community leaders will determine the agency needs. By incorporating these approaches within the community service process, all those involved will be better able to share information, knowledge and therefore improve the chances of reaching the community development goals of the sites.

West Virginia Wesleyan College - WV, West Virginia
President: William Haden
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