Noodleball, gardening and learning the secrets of a long life might be considered unexpected agenda items at a “Greek retreat” for collegiate sorority and fraternity students. Yet it all came together in grand fashion this past weekend through a partnership between Wichita State University and Schowalter Villa retirement community of Hesston. A group of students at the Cross Wind Conference Center retreat chose to perform their service learning projects at the Villa.

To start the day, a friendly game of noodleball quickly got under way between the Greek students and Villa residents. Afterward, some students helped perform gardening tasks with Judy Friesen at Hesston Intergenerational Child Development Center on the Villa campus.

“We are excited about the constant expansion of our volunteer program at the Villa, especially at the collegiate level,” said Schowalter Villa Volunteer Services Coordinator Megan Kelley. “We are focusing on the upward trend of community volunteering.”

For some of the Greek students, the day at the Villa was their first exposure to a long-term care setting. The students were eager to interview Villa Life Center residents, those in healthcare and assisted living, to glean wisdom about the secret to living a long and healthful life.

“I won’t forget what one resident told me,” said a Greek student, reflecting on what she had learned from the experience. “The resident’s advice was this: ‘Don’t be shy. It’s the people who go after what they want, who get what they want!’”

For information about volunteer opportunities at Schowalter Villa, contact Kelley at 620-327-3413 or visit the Web site at