New RSO: The Pay It Forward Experience aims to spread good deeds among students, community

Ovid-Elsie freshman James Wilson was a senior in high school when he decided to incorporate his idea for The Pay It Forward Experience into his advanced writing service learning unit.

The idea came from his friend when he mentioned to him there was a book made into a movie called "Pay It Forward."

"It was so powerful and inspiring and made me want to do big things," he said.

Wilson, the founder and president of the new Pay It Forward registered student organization on campus, said he hopes to see the concept of the organization reach other states across the country.

"It's a simple idea," he said. "Each member is given bracelets, and the goal is to get rid of them by doing something nice for someone else, such as something that person couldn't otherwise do for him or herself."

Wilson is looking for new members who are interested in making a difference and people who already do but might doubt their work is paying off and can see it through this organization. Membership includes a $5 fee for bracelets, attending a total of eight meetings, once every other week per semester, and being allowed to miss up to three.

"It's a simple organization, idea and movement," he said. "It's not a big time-commitment at all."

Katie Artz, who met Wilson at Leadership Camp in May, said he inspired her to want to join and help by doing good deeds.

"He's a really fun person to be around, and the more I got to know him, he gave me an insight to his outlook on life," the Grass Lake freshman said. "I knew it was something near and dear to his heart, and I am really interested in helping people out, so I knew this was a good step in the right direction."

Artz said while she isn't looking for any personal rewards, she is looking forward to being a part of an organization that helps people out around campus and does nice things for the community.

"People will learn how to do nice stuff for other people without expecting anything in return," she said.

For St. Johns freshman Audrey Lockwood, she became interested in joining after Wilson introduced the idea to her in a collegiate course they took while in high school.

"I love how much he cares about people and his passion for the group," she said. "I am inspired and am hoping this group will help me and others care more about helping other people."

Students who are interested in joining The Pay It Forward Experience can request to join the organization on and then attend the first meeting at 8 p.m. on Oct.  25 in the Lake Michigan room at the University Center.


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