With the first CAS due date recently past, many students may be frustrated that their Service hours have little impact on their school life. You do your hours, pass the due date, and then likely nothing else happens. Luckily, there is a way to get official credit for your hours outside of City. United Way of West Michigan offers a nationally recognized service award for high school students, the lowest level of which is open to anyone who completed 25 or more hours. This means that a lot of City students already qualify for this award simply by completing their required CAS hours. While the award is posted on the CHMSIB website not a lot of people seem to know about it. Of the 76 City students who qualified for the award last year, only 2 applied. This is intended as a simple and easy guide to get recognized by colleges for the hours you have already completed.

The application process is short and easy. It will probably take you only half an hour to an hour to get official, nationally recognized credit for your hours. Such an award can really help with college applications.

Step by step

1. Complete your hours

As a City student you likely already know how to do this. If you are looking for places to volunteer, Kids’ Food Basket is a great organization that always has opportunities for volunteers. Kid’s Food Basket is a non-profit dedicated to feeding children who do not have enough to eat. If you are interested, a full article about Kid’s Food Basket is upcoming. If you want additional opportunities, consult the CHMSIB page.

  1. Fill out the United Way volunteer sheet. This is unfortunately on paper so you will have to transcribe your hours from the internet. The sheet requires the activity, the date, the number of hours, and a supervisor signature. Most of this information is already required by City’s CAS form, although if you begin now you may need to collect hand signatures from your supervisors. Download the volunteer hours sheet here.
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3. Write Your Essay

The essay is actually surprisingly short. Given the length requirements it is likely about three hundred words of response to four simple questions. The guidelines are below.

The essay should be typed, using 12-point font, with 1-inch margins. It should be at least one half a page

(single spaced) in length. Type your name, address and phone number at the top left corner of page one.

Please mail a copy of your senior picture (or a current photo if you didn’t get senior pictures) with your essay.

The photo will be used with media publications that acknowledge your accomplishments.

Your essay must be completed and sent to your local Volunteer Center. Send your essay as soon as possible to

allow time for processing.

The essay should include your thoughtful responses to these questions:

a. What community issues did you address during your service?

b. What motivated you to become involved in these projects?

c. What is the most significant thing you have learned from your service experience?

d. What impact does your commitment to service have on your future plans?

4. Submit your application

This step is as simple as click and submit. Fill out the form and then send your application essay and hours form to United Way.

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Writer of many interests entering my third year at The City Voice. If you have a question about any of my articles, or a topic you want me to write about, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at the.scrivener.chms@gmail.com.