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ASTRA seeks to give back

ASTRA members relaxed after a club meeting, members left to right: Salvador Valencia, Sarah Gordon, Tyrel Ott, Matthew Cluver, Miguel Rodriguez, Sabrina Bidwell, Brenna Martin and Melia VanCleave.
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
ASTRA members relaxed after a club meeting, members left to right: Salvador Valencia, Sarah Gordon, Tyrel Ott, Matthew Cluver, Miguel Rodriguez, Sabrina Bidwell, Brenna Martin and Melia VanCleave.

The idea of helping out may sometimes feel overwhelming with so many charities looking for donations. However a club on campus is trying to do their part to make life better for those in need of help.

The Ability Service Training Responsibility Achievement club, better known by the abbreviation ASTRA, has been extending a helping hand to individuals and organizations that are being a positive force in this community.

“It’s an opportunity for students to get involved with service projects that interest them. Also, it gives students a chance to work hand in hand with Altrusa members and to network with potential employers or other community groups that they may want to get involved with after they graduate,” Robin VanWinkle, Community Education director and ASTRA adviser, said.

ASTRA is a campus club associated with Altrusa International of Roseburg. “In 1962, Altrusa International established the Altrusa International Foundation, which is dedicated to improving economic well-being and quality of life through a commitment to community services and literacy,” according to Altrusa international website.

Furthermore Altrusa has a long standing history of being a service club in Douglas County since the late 1960s. ASTRA club was originally begun in the early 2000s at Roseburg High School. Approximately three years ago the club was started on campus when graduating students from the RHS ASTRA club decided to start a club so they could continue doing the same activities. Past ASUCC President Ethan Snyder went through all the procedures with Marjan Coester the student life director to become a club.

For students to be recognized as a club, a faculty member must be signed on to be the adviser. Robin VanWinkle was chosen by the students to fill this role. She had been an Altrusa member since 1990. VanWinkle joined Altrusa to network and give back to the community. She was also involved in the Roseburg ASTRA club from 2008-2010 before helping start a club on campus.

Recently, ASTRA has held a bake sale that was able to fund raise $120 towards Casa de Belen transitional housing for homeless teens. Tyrel Ott one of the members made six of the pies that were in the bake sale.

“Whoot Whoot, I love baking overall, so it didn’t really feel like a chore; it was for a worthy cause. I put a little more love in to making the pies,” Ott member of ASTRA said.

The next event will be held at Diamond Lake Abby’s on June 1 between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Activities include a silent auction of confectionary goods and a raffle  for a $30 gift certificate to Lil’ Miss Cupcake. The money raised during this event will go to Casa de Belen.

“ASTRA has a lot of positivity surrounding it. We are a group of individuals who have come together for a greater cause, and we have excelled in our commitment to our local community,” Miguel Rodriguez, ASTRA treasurer said.

Miguel was recognized for his excelled commitment in helping the local community last year by receiving a $500 leadership award that’s offered to one UCC and Roseburg high school ASTRA members.  All a student has to do is fill out a short application consisting of what kind of service activities they have done and what leadership experience they have gained. They must also discuss how they plan to use that leadership experience in the future.

“I feel that ASTRA is a really great way to meet new people and to do projects that you’re actually interested in. It’s literally what we do at the meeting; we sit down and ask each other what kind of service projects we should do. We have been talking about planting a tree somewhere on campus. We have heard that the Cobb Street School is trying to renovate their playground, so we may donate a tree to them. Another thing is getting people together who have certain skill sets that want to help the community. Individuals that have landscaping experience may help in planting trees. Also someone that loves to bake can help with putting together a bake sale,” Brenna Martin, ASTRA president said.

In winter term, ASTRA took part in the Celebration of Literacy week in Douglas County. The members had a table event that took place at the Roseburg mall. Activities consist of setting up a table with art paper and color pencils and markers to help children make a fish shaped bookmark. 

Last year, ASTRA held a bingo event to raise money. With the money raised, they worked with Heifer international by purchasing a goat that would be given to a needy family in a third world country. The goat is then used as a mechanism for the family to make a living.