Giving Back to Communities in Need

Sep 24, 2013 12:40 PM ET
Global Day of Service

Spotlight on Walden

Inaugurated in 2005 with five projects in the United States, Walden’s Global Day of Service grew into an international event that demonstrates how positive social change can impact the world in just 24 hours. Walden celebrates its eighth annual volunteer event in 2013, expanding it to a weeklong Global Days of Service, which will allow more opportunities for the entire Walden community to come together to make a greater difference. In anticipation of Global Days of Service (Sept. 30–Oct. 6), Spotlight on Walden spoke with two project leaders about why they participate.

Dr. Michelle Hoggins is a two-time project leader and 2011 Ph.D. in Psychology graduate. She founded Virtual Veterans, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that provides social services support to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans post-combat. The vision for her organization, through which she responds to the challenges associated with the aftermath of the combat experience, was a direct result of her Walden dissertation, A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding the Impact of War Trauma for African-American Female Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Jessua Mathieu, also a two-time project leader, joined Walden in 2011 as administrative assistant forThe Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership. Born in South Dakota and raised in Japan and several Western states, he now resides in Minneapolis with his wife, Megumi. His father, David, is a contributing faculty member in Walden’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program and his sister, Felicity, was posthumously awarded her bachelor’s degree from Walden in 2012.

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?

Dr. Hoggins: I think that it’s a universal need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. As a 10-year Army veteran, I am reminded of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of service. Therefore, it is my lifelong commitment to serve those who served us.

Mathieu: I find volunteering as a gratifying means to make a difference in a small, yet impactful, way. Often, people become too busy to incorporate volunteering in their lives. This is why I think that Walden University’s support for volunteering initiatives is such a helpful and convenient means for our students and staff to become educated about and involved in community activities that really do make a difference.

How did you first become involved in Walden's Global Day of Service?

Mathieu: I volunteered for a project in Minneapolis when I first joined Walden. The following year, I was asked for ideas for a Global Day of Service project and proposed improving the campus of the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC), which is one of the first urban American Indian centers in the country that provides programs to address chemical dependency, college preparation, child welfare, women’s health and support, seniors, and employment assistance.

Why did you decide to lead a project again for Global Days of Service 2013?

Dr. Hoggins: The positive feedback from the volunteers who participated in Global Day of Service 2012 inspired me to host another project this year. In addition to being moved by our efforts, the community was exceptionally generous in supporting our mission to make a difference. We touched the lives of many combat veterans. This year, I am hosting a free community service outreach event to promote health and wellness for veterans, their spouses, and their dependents. There will be health screenings, haircuts, children’s activities, food, and more.

Why should people get involved in Global Days of Service this year?

Dr. Hoggins: It is an opportunity to advance social change by coming together as a community to serve others.

Mathieu: Having strength in numbers helps to create a larger impact on causes that are aligned with our mission of furthering positive social change in our own backyards. Take the opportunity to feel good about doing good!

Join us for Global Days of Service (Sept. 30-Oct.6)

Visit to find a project near you and register as a volunteer. The Walden Service Network was launched in 2010 and is an online community that connects volunteers with service projects in need of support year-round.