Service events benefit refugees, Counter Cruise

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The 18th class of the Roberts Fellowship is planning two service events during the second weekend of April.

One group of students – Nik Berkobien, Reanna Cantrall, Brandon Errer, Kevin Finley and Stephen Holihan – has started the Welcome Home Organization to engage in community service activities in the region.

This semester, the group will provide financial and moral support to incoming refugee families through partnerships with the Tri-Cities Refugee Organization and Samaritas, the largest refugee resettlement agency in Michigan.

“Our work is the synthesis of a lot of different groups in the area,” said Berkobien, a psychology senior. “We’re also working with a couple different departments and professors around campus.”

The Welcome Home Organization is coordinating the “Welcome Home Run,” a 5K around campus on Saturday, April 8, from 10 a.m. until noon.

Registration is $25 for adults, $10 for children between the ages of six and 12, and $5 for children under the age of five.

After the run, attendees can listen to a local representative talk about how to push for social change in the community, find out how to get involved with local organizations that are fighting for causes they care about and write postcards to elected officials to make their voices heard and opinions known.

All proceeds will support refugee resettlement efforts of Samaritas and the Tri-Cities Refugee Organization.

You can also donate to the Welcome Home Organization through GoFundMe.

“We wanted to provide a space for students, community members, and organizations to link up with one another, so we’re acting like a liaison,” Berkobien said. “We hope this can give some students the tools to get involved with local politics and affect change. We want students to get engaged in politics, because this is how social change happens.”

Visit for more information or to register.

The other group of students – Samuel Oswald, Natalie Schneider, Imran Khan, Sandra Lamarche and Christina Micale – is working with Counter Cruise to host “Counter Cruise at SVSU,” an eight-mile bicycle ride around campus.

The bicycle ride will start in K-Lot across from the Ryder Center on Sunday, April 9, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Counter Cruise organizes eight- to 10-mile bicycle rides around Old Town Saginaw each week in the summer, so riders are able to see parts of the city in ways they otherwise might not have the opportunity to.

“When we were trying to figure out a group we could work with, Natalie brought up the idea of working with Counter Cruise, and we thought, ‘Hey, why not?’” said Oswald, a psychology and sociology senior. “It’s a solid organization in the area that works to benefit Saginaw specifically, and we thought it’d be cool to host a bike ride around campus toward the end of the semester.”

Riders are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations for Hidden Harvest, an organization that aims to mitigate hunger and limit food waste in the Tri-Cities by redistributing surplus food to people in need.

Hidden Harvest was SVSU’s 2016 beneficiary of Battle of the Valleys; its current president and the CEO of the Saginaw branch is alum Samantha McKenzie.

Search “Counter Cruise at SVSU” on Facebook for more information.