Northeastern students find life purpose in community service

04/21/16 – BOSTON, MA. – Members of Northeastern’s chapter of Circle K International pose for a portrait at Northeastern University on April 21, 2016. The group completed more than 2,800 hours of community service during the 2015-2016 academic year. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Circle K is the world’s largest collegiate community service organization, with more than 13,000 members in 17 nations. But few chapters of the club, which is sponsored by Kiwanis International, can rival the size and success of Northeastern’s hardworking group.

During the 2015-16 academic year, the club’s 96 active members completed some 2,800 hours of community service for more than a dozen nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston. Among their many projects, they designed no-sew blankets for children at Boston’s Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute; played basketball with kids at the Boys & Girls Club; and served hot meals to service members at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans. Other service partners ranged from Cradles to Crayons and Room to Grow to Community Servings and the Food Project.

“We’re a force to be reckoned with,” said club president Jennifer Rigby, DMSB’17. “Our members are dedicated, kind, and always looking for ways to better the community.”

Their many achievements have not gone unnoticed. In fact, the group won 14 awards at the 56th annual New England Circle K District Convention in March, more than any other participating school in the region. Six students were recognized for their individual accomplishments, including Rigby, who won the Tim Daly Award for outstanding service, and Ashley Frizzell, DMBS’16, who was named outstanding secretary.

Both award winners noted that Circle K has shaped their outlooks on life, making them more altruistic and self-effacing. Classes and co-op are important, they said, but so too is taking a step back and helping people in need. “Being able to help someone who can’t help himself is what humanity is all about,” Frizzell said. “I don’t consider volunteering a chore, I consider it a natural part of my purpose in life.”

As a Vermont native, volunteering in Boston has helped her adjust to her second home. “It feels more like my neighborhood when I’m doing cleanup projects on Mission Hill or going down the street to volunteer at a local church to serve the homeless,” she said.

For Rigby, Circle K is an extension of class, another medium through which she has honed her academic acumen. As a fourth-year business major with a concentration in marketing, she plans to harness the communication and leadership skills she’s developed as president to pursue a career in public relations.

Frizzell, a fourth-year business major with a concentration in marketing and supply chain management, wants to work for a company whose values reflect those of Circle K. “I want the company I work for to value the community that it impacts, which is something that Circle K practices in giving back to the community and helping those in need,” she said.