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“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Winston Churchill’s words couldn’t ring truer for SCC student and Cougars Care president, Alex Zink.
Growing up with 13 brothers and sisters made growing up with normalcies, like a pantry full of food, hard for Zink. He became the recipient of volunteer efforts, not unlike Backpack Impact, an initiative put in place by New Hope Resource Center in O’Fallon, Mo., that fills backpacks full of food and resources for students who need it.
“I knew I wanted to better my life, but my family didn’t feel the same,” Zink said. “I decided to move in with a church family and start turning my life around.”
Ever since that life-changing decision, Zink has been serving to better not only himself, but also his community.
“I actively volunteer in St. Charles County. I signed up to receive volunteer notifications from City Hall, so I work at events like the Fall Festival in St. Charles, as well as on a more regular basis at my church.”
When Zink came to SCC in fall 2014, his passion for volunteerism led him to relaunch the student services organization, Cougars Care.
“Student leadership is critical to group success. Alex’s leadership of Cougars Care has breathed new life into our efforts to offer students multiple community service opportunities,” said Brian Legate, SCC recruitment and assessment manager and Cougars Care advisor.
The club had been on hold for more than eight years due to lack of student leadership. Zink immediately started planning and recruiting to get the club back on track.
“I attend campus events, like Fall Fun Blitz, Spring Fling and movie nights to recruit students to join the club. At any event 30-40 people will sign up, and about ten of those people will actually join our Facebook page to see what upcoming volunteer opportunities we have going on.”
Since Cougars Care has been back in action, lots of volunteer efforts have been put in place. They adopted a part of Highway 364 that they clean up on a regular basis and recently took on one of their biggest projects yet, a food drive benefiting New Hope Resource Center’s Backpack Impact initiative. The drive raised $300 worth of donations and more than 500 items.
“The food drive was really close to my heart. I used to be one of the kids who benefited from those programs.”
Although this is Zink’s last semester at SCC before transferring to Southeast Missouri State University, he has high hopes for next year’s food drive.
“This year St. Louis Community College also held a food drive and brought their collections to us so we could do one large donation. In the future I would love to have a food drive war with St. Louis Community College. I think the competition would get more people involved, and more people involved means more donations for the kids.”
There’s no sign of Cougars Care slowing back down. Being involved in numerous campus clubs, including Black Student Leadership Alliance, Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa has its perks. Zink and Cougars Care will now take on an additional drive this December because of those connections.
“PTK will no longer be doing their Christmas drive, so we will be doing that in place of them. The drive collects items and sends them overseas to military members. We’re very excited about it!”
Joe Hall, a mentor of Cougars Care, isn’t surprised that Zink is persistently adding volunteer opportunities to its docket, continuing to change the club for the better and keep them active.
“From the short time I've gotten to know Alex, I can already tell he is the type of person who is going to make a difference in the world,” Hall said. “He has all the characteristics of a strong leader and is serving the community with the utmost passion.”
Zink, who plans on continuing his criminal justice education at SEMO in the spring, hopes to become a local police officer after graduating with his bachelor’s degree.
“I want a career that allows me to give back and serve my community, just like I do now through volunteering.”
Last updated: Oct. 25, 2016