Highlighting the Helpers 

by | May 20, 2020 | In the Spotlight.

During difficult times, Cardinals step up to help others.

Cardinals shine in difficult times — through their compassion, their generosity and their resolve to make a positive impact on the world. During the coronavirus pandemic, many people are experiencing times of need. These people are there to help.


Lana Troyer ’22

In March, Otterbein made the difficult decision to take classes online and send students home to protect the campus community from the coronavirus. In the middle of adjusting to this new reality, some Otterbein students stepped up to serve the central Ohio community by offering childcare for the families of overwhelmed first responders, with the help of the Columbus Firefighters’ Union, Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown, and Senior Instructor Dan Steinberg in the Department of Communication.

Communication major Lana Troyer was one of the students who stepped up. “My whole motto through this was help those who help others. If there was anything big or small that I could do to ensure our first responders and their families were being taken care of, that was my priority,” she said. “Volunteering hasn’t begun yet, but I have been in contact with a firefighter and we’re making the proper arrangements.”


The Promise House Team

Otterbein’s Promise House is a student-led resource center and food pantry committed to helping peers overcome socioeconomic barriers to student success. While many students left campus, the needs of the 63 students who stayed on campus and those who live near campus remained great. To continue to address these needs, the Promise House moved to a pre-packaged pick-up protocol to protect both shoppers and volunteers, and even provides recipes for students using the shelf-stable food. The protocol mirrors those being used by many Ohio pantries. Currently, the team is growing fresh produce in the hoop house at the Otterbein Community Garden and readying the landscape for the summer growing season to provide food for both Otterbein students and neighbors.

“Otterbein has a long-standing commitment of caring for its community. It’s who we are. It’s what we do,” said Melissa Gilbert, Otterbein’s associate dean of experiential learning and director of the Center for Community Engagement. “Students rely on the Promise House. As businesses close temporarily due to the state mandated health precautions, students are losing their jobs. They’re worried. Supporting one another is why students created the Promise House and why we’re stepping up our efforts now.”


Winston Spiker ’20

The disappointment of missing out on the celebrations and camaraderie that mark the end of a student’s senior year could get some students down, but not Winston Spiker, a psychology major and offensive lineman for the Cardinals’ football team. Instead, he made the most of the situation by serving his community. When his service-learning course was moved online, Spiker moved his service from Westerville to his hometown and joined his mother, who is the head cook at Adamsville (OH) Elementary School, and other volunteers to help food-insecure children.

“We are providing weekly care packages of food for the students that go to Adamsville Elementary, which is where I went to elementary school,” Spiker said. “Adamsville is a very tight-knit community of only 114 people, so when people are in need the town bands together and jumps in to help. The power of community during times like these is inspiring. I feel fortunate that Otterbein really instills those values in us even more.”

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