BU Today

Campus Life

Helping Others

CAS student committed to community service

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Since 2005 Madison Mellish has volunteered with Orphan Outreach in the Dominican Republic.

Madison Mellish is one of many students on campus who dedicate their time to helping others.

As service vice president of the coed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO), she finds and coordinates community service events her fraternity sisters and brothers can participate in, and she makes sure to include some fun. This past semester, Mellish (CAS’10) worked over 75 hours with APO and volunteered in the Dominican Republic. BU Today spoke with Mellish about her fraternity and her volunteer work.

BU Today: How did you get involved with community service on campus?
Mellish:
Freshman year I participated in the First Year Student Outreach Project and the Siblings program through the Community Service Center. Sophomore year I heard about Alpha Phi Omega, but I wasn’t sure how to get involved. First semester junior year I pledged and really got more involved in community service here at BU. APO was a great fit for me because it allowed me to do a variety of service events when it was convenient, since they are all one-time events.

How did you start working in the Dominican Republic and what do you do there?
Junior year of high school my school organized a community service trip during spring break to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic through the nonprofit Orphanage Outreach. That was the first time I had ever seen extreme poverty, and it had a lasting impact on me. The next year, for my senior project, I returned for a month. That trip really changed my life. The people there are some of the warmest, most loving, happy people I know. Seeing extreme poverty and how much some people in the world live without on a day-to-day basis really puts your life into perspective.

I have volunteered with Orphanage Outreach eight times now. With each trip I fall more in love with the country and the people, and every trip is completely different. One trip I might be teaching English at a school, the next I might be helping run a summer camp, and on another I might be tutoring the kids at the orphanage.

Have you ever had a moment where you thought, “Wow, I’m making a difference in other people’s lives”?
Last semester APO threw a birthday party for a homeless child through a nonprofit called Birthday Wishes. We sponsored the event, which meant raising all the money (over $400), buying decorations, gifts, and food, and planning and running the party. It took an incredible amount of work, and during the planning process it was easy to forget the end goal and get stressed out.

But when the birthday boy entered the room and looked around, I saw his face instantly light up. He looked at us and asked, “Is this all for me?” That’s when it all came together for me, and I realized how much I had really made his day and given him a great birthday party he will never forget

What would you say to someone looking to get involved in community service on campus or in Boston?
I would say that BU is a great place to start, because we’ve got so many different organizations on campus that do community service. Everyone can find a fit. If you’re looking for an opportunity outside of BU, I would suggest signing up for something like bostoncares.org, an organization that holds one-time service events all over the city.

Of course, I think APO is a great organization and always shamelessly promote it. Since our service events are one time, it is easy to get involved, no matter what your schedule is. We accept new members every semester, and we accept everyone as long as they fulfill the requirements (which include 20 hours of community service a semester). It’s a great way to give back and to meet some great people.

Nicole Rojas can be reached at nrojas@bu.edu.

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