By Natalie Payan
To provide students with information about volunteering opportunities, the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (SLCE) will host the Winter Volunteer Fair on Jan. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Don Taft University Center.
This bi-annual event brings 20 to 30 local community members from various non-profit organizations to the university so that students can interact with and learn about diverse volunteer organizations, like Feeding South Florida, the Museum of Discovery and Science, the Wildlife Center, Broward Partnership for the Homeless and Flamingo Gardens, among others.
Stephanie Schoeder, graduate assistant for SLCE, said she understands the difficulties students face when volunteering.
“Finding a local community volunteer group can be overwhelming,” she said. “It’s easier for the affiliates to come here instead of students having to go out. Now students have a contact person with these affiliates, so they know where to start.”
Morgan Thorn, junior biology major and president of the Alpha Phi Omega organization, attended the fair in the past and saw how it impacted students.
“It’s a great way to find different organizations to work with off campus,” she said. “Students definitely get to see a different side of the community that they wouldn’t normally see.”
Gabrielle Golub, sophomore criminal justice major, said volunteering helps students escape from the intense school workload.
“I like volunteering because it relieves stress from school or anything in a person’s life,” she explained. “It clears your head, and you get to help someone else.”
Other students believe volunteering will help them in their future careers.
“You need service hours for students’careers,” Colleen McMaken, freshman marine biology major said. “It’s a good resume-builder, and it makes you feel good helping someone else.”
Schoeder encouraged students to attend this event to better understand what it means to give back to their community.
“We want students to know what community service opportunities are available,” she explained. “Being able to gain a different perspective from volunteering is very important.”
Stephanie Silva, sophomore exercise science major, said that volunteering can easily fit into a student’s hectic schedule.
“It’s just like exercising. If a person’s interested and doesn’t have the time, they’ll make the time,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of people who can benefit from it.”
Some students think volunteering itself can benefit students.
“You gain experience with volunteering, and you don’t have to pay anything when you volunteer,” said Alexandra Bretoux, freshman biology major. “You also learn how to give back to the community without expecting something in return.”
Thorn said that volunteering ultimately helps students grow as individuals.
“You don’t have to spend five hours volunteering, but you can spend two hours helping someone,” she explained. “You not only learn about the community, but you also learn about yourself.”
Students are not required to register for the fair. For more information, contact the SLCE office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-262-7195.