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Oct. 12, 2012
By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant
It isn’t unusual to see alumnus Grant Venable’s Facebook timeline flooded with pictures of him and other volunteers building schools and working with communities in developing countries. The passion with which he works on these projects is the reason behind his huge smile in every picture, and his appreciation of a Northwest Missouri State University education is the reason behind the Bearcat shirts he wears.
“I always take some Northwest swag on my projects and love to tell kids that if they work hard in school, someday they might be able to go to Northwest,” Venable said.
Venable, a 2005 graduate living in Fort Collins, Colo., began working with Be the Change Volunteers in 2010. He was working with a school in India, and needed a non-profit to help construct a soccer field and playground. Venable connected with Be the Change Volunteers co-founder Jimmy Cook to complete the project, and he has been part of the organization ever since.
“A lot of the work I do is planning events, projects, making sure our plans are going to succeed, and letting our board know if a project is something we should pursue,” Venable said. “Then we lead teams of 10 to 20 people on builds.”
About half of Venable’s time is spent volunteering with Be the Change Volunteers, which has taken him to countries such as India, Kenya and Papua New Guinea. The other half is devoted to independent contracting and healthcare communications consulting work. His wife, Rachel, who also attended Northwest, is completing her residency in veterinary oncology. After that, Venable, driven by his enthusiasm for making a positive difference, hopes to exclusively volunteer with Be the Change Volunteers.
“I truly believe that we can provide the entire world with at least a primary or a skilled education,” Venable said. “I think we can do it in our lifetime at the rate that all the organizations together are working.”
As a public relations major at Northwest, Venable was encouraged and motivated by professors in the communications department. As an alumnus, he uses leadership, organizational and communications skills to recruit volunteers, plan builds and interact with schools, communities and governments in developing countries.
Recruiting is a full-time job for Venable, who always seems ready to tell somebody about Be the Change Volunteers.
“I want people to go because it will change your life if you go,” Venable said. “You will learn so much about the community, but you’ll also learn so much about yourself. You’ll push yourself and learn that you can do things that you may have never imagined like building and equipping a school.”
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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