Casey Palmer Has a Servant's Heart By Bonnie Blackburn | April 19, 2011 | RSS “There is always a smile on her face, and she is a joy to be around,” said Kristen Garrett, director of the Bonner Program, about Casey Palmer, a junior at Bluefield College. Palmer, a communications major who is minoring in psychology, is a member of Alpha Delta sorority and a representative to SGA, but she still finds time to volunteer at the Abel Center in Bluefield, W.Va. Palmer started her work at the Abel Center in the spring of 2009, her freshman year of college, when Dwain Harwick, director of the Abel Center, taught Palmer's math class. One of her first classes with Harwick was the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade. On that day, Harwick prayed for young women facing unplanned pregnancies and the decision of abortion. Palmer said she felt like Harwick was speaking right to her, so she approached him with questions about the center and the possibility of volunteering. Casey Palmer is more than just a BC student; she is actively working to help girls with their unplanned pregnancies. “The word volunteer had never previously come to mind,” said Palmer. “I had never really volunteered anywhere before.” Palmer is now a member of the Bonner AmeriCorps Program that Kristen Garrett directs for Bluefield College. The Bonner Program requires participants to complete 300 hours of service in one year. Once Palmer completes those hours, she receives a scholarship for $1,000. Palmer volunteered for one semester at the Abel Center, however, before finding out about the Bonner Program. In the fall of 2009, Palmer said she learned about the program from Kelly Somers, BC’s Director of Residence Life and Counseling Services. "I figured if I was already volunteering, why not join Bonner and receive a financial award toward my education?" Palmer said. The Bonner Program is based on commitments to civic engagement, community building, diversity, international perspective, social justice and spiritual exploration. Palmer first met Garrett, the program’s director, at the Abel Center, where she also volunteered her time. “Casey has been one of the most responsible and devoted students I have had in the program,” Garrett said. During the summers, Palmer volunteers at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center, a crisis pregnancy center in Roanoke, Va. At the Abel Center, Palmer is a lay counselor, which she said assists women who are facing unplanned pregnancies by helping them find healthy solutions. Palmer also helps with the Earn While You Learn Program, which allows new and expectant parents to learn about parenthood and their pregnancies. "Through the Earn While You Learn Program, the parents are able to receive material resources at no cost, while gaining knowledge and life skills training," said Palmer. Serving the women at the Abel Center has become a part of Palmer's passion. Having dealt with an unplanned pregnancy herself, followed by a miscarriage during her senior year of high school in 2008, she knows what the girls and families coming through the doors of the center are facing "I try not to question why things happen anymore," said Palmer. "God has a plan and purpose for everything and that became reality to me through my experience. God pulled me up from what I thought at the time was the lowest point in my life, and he turned everything around." Through working with clients at the center, Palmer became more interested in counseling. As a communications major she decided to minor in psychology, and she has considered going to graduate school for a degree in community counseling. "I couldn't believe how much the two went hand in hand," said Palmer. "It's like in every psychology class I can relate something to communications, and in every communications class I can relate something to psychology." But Palmer still has a heart for communications. She was selected by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for a paid internship this summer at WDBJ7, a television station in Roanoke. "I want to do it all," said Palmer. "I want to be a writer and a reporter, but I also want to fulfill my passion in working with women, teen girls and families who are in crisis situations." Palmer encourages students at Bluefield to get involved with some type of service. She discovered her passion for service and she knows other students can discover theirs, too. "If there is something you are passionate about or something you have struggled with that God has brought you through, there is someone else who has gone through it, too," said Palmer. "I encourage you to get involved, be bold, share your story and make a difference."