College In Residence Volunteer Program

This program has been very successful and I believe it would be a wonderful enhancement to our other Residential Habilitation Center Campus.  We certainly have the space for college students to live – why not put it to good use and give these students an educational opportunity which will also enhance the quality of life of our residents?

I love this idea and believe it could be part of a healthcare professional’s training to spend at least a quarter doing this.  We need to pursue this opportunity.

Contact: John Wiley, (509) 363-4797,
Contact: Thomas Shapley, (360) 902-8007,
August 26, 2010
Student volunteer program at Lakeland Village has served developmentally disabled residents for 40 years

SPOKANE – For the past 40 years, students at Eastern Washington University and other area colleges have formed a unique bond with Lakeland Village through the College in Residence Volunteer program, or CIRV.

CIRV is pronounced “serve,” and the volunteers help staff with the hundreds of daily chores a residential habilitation center requires.

The program, which started in 1970, provides an apartment and board at nominal cost in former staff quarters to about 40 students. In exchange, the students each volunteer 15 hours a week on the Lakeland Village campus, just across the street.

Recently, administrators from the Department of Social and Health Services Division of Developmental Disabilities presented plaques to EWU officials recognizing the Cheney School’s contributions to the program over the decades. Current and past CIRV volunteers also were recognized.

The majority of CIRV students attend EWU, but the program also has been home to students from Whitworth University, the Community Colleges of Spokane, Gonzaga University and even Apollo College.

Ronni Coleman, entering her senior year at EWU, is a CIRV who lives in one of the two-bedroom apartments while pursuing a degree in radiology. Coleman said volunteers frequently provide “another pair of eyes” and interact with clients, freeing Lakeland Village staffers for other duties.

“They’re the neatest people to work with,” she said of the cottage residents. “The more you get to know them, the more you know what you can do.”

“People like Ronni bring youth and lots of energy to our clients,” said Leroy LeMaster, CIRV program coordinator. “I think the kids learn a lot about themselves. And when these kids leave here, they become spokespeople for Developmental Disabilities.”

Without the volunteers, Lakeland Village residents might not be able to participate in popular programs such as Special Olympics, recreational dances and movie nights, LeMaster said.

Lakeland Village, opened in 1915 in a rural area near Medical Lake, is one of five Department of Social and Health Services residential habilitation centers that provide training, work skills, programs, supportive living and around-the-clock care for eligible clients under the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, within the Department’s Aging and Disability Services Administration. The centers also provide short-term respite stays for eligible community members.

The CIRV program offers students a real-life opportunity to “test the waters” in a potential career, such as recreational, physical, or speech therapy.

“It was a good experience. I loved it,” Nora McKinney said of her two quarters in CIRV. “The CIRV students would carpool to save money. You do what you can to get through college.”

McKinney, now a Lakeland Village habilitation plan administrator, joined the CIRV program as a therapeutic recreation major in the early 1970s at the start of her career. In September, she will celebrate 35 years with DSHS, all of them at Lakeland Village.

Sharlene Gentry wanted to be a teacher when she transferred to EWU from North Idaho College in 1980. “I didn’t know I wanted to get into Developmental Disabilities,” she said. “CIRV was my way to go to college in Washington from Idaho. It helped me to be able to pay the bills.”

She eventually got her teaching degree and worked in public schools for a bit, but later returned to teach at Interlake School before it closed, later becoming a habilitation plan manager at Lakeland Village.

She’s now a supervisor at the Division of Developmental Disability Region 1 headquarters in Spokane. If not for two years spent in CIRV housing and the volunteer work that went with it, her path might have been much different, Gentry said.

“CIRV determined the course of my career,” she said. “The Lakeland Village staff was very welcoming and friendly, she said, “So much so that I often spent more than 15 hours a week there because I enjoyed the persons with disabilities who lived there as well.” Gentry said one of her cherished memories of Lakeland Village is of helping a 22-year-old woman learn to tie shoelaces.

“We sat down night after night” to practice the skill, she said. “Finally, she was able to tie her shoes. To a lot of people, that doesn’t mean a thing, but for her, it meant a lot.”

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One comment on “College In Residence Volunteer Program

  1. Tamee Lewis says:

    I was wondering do you have to be in college to do this program


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