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Students and community partners alike crowded the Shepherd Union Atrium on Wednesday for the Center for Community Engaged Learning‘s annual Volunteer Fair.
Community partners are organizations within the community that work through the CCEL to allow students volunteer opportunities. Partners set up booths where students were invited to stop and get more information as they passed by on their way to classes.
Scott Ball, community partner coordinator for the CCEL, said that this year the team utilized a prize drawing as a way to catch students’ attention and get them talking with community partners.
“It worked well, but we are still exploring different ways to get students to openly create conversations with our community partners and learn more about their organizations,” Ball said. “This is difficult with the busy nature of students being preoccupied with classes and things, but we are still looking at some different strategies.”
Youth Impact, one of the community partners, provides an after-school and summer program that allows inner-city children a safe place to mingle and have positive experiences, according to staff member Jenny Stone.
“We are kind of dependent on Weber State because a ton of our volunteers come from (there) . . . whether it’s nine hours or 100 hours, our staff is pretty small . . . so Weber State students being able to come down is huge. . . . To be able to work with (at-risk children) and to be that positive influence and to do something positive with them and make them feel good about themselves is really cool. And a lot of volunteers that are able to spend a few hours down there really like doing it.”
Freshman Alison Williams said she believes the Volunteer Fair helps a lot of students connect with programs through which they can make a difference.
“People want to be involved, but sometimes don’t know how . . . so I think having a place where people can go explore options and find ways to get involved is always good,” she said.
Ball said he thinks the event was a success.
“The Volunteer Fair went very well. Many students were able to engage with community partners and discuss volunteer opportunities. Some students were able to register with community partners and volunteer with them later that day. It was great to hear such positive results and immediate impact.”
Saybra Kelly of United Way said she wanted to emphasize the importance of Weber State University students volunteering and working with community partners.
“There is a huge need for volunteers in the community. It’s an important thing to be involved in our community . . . even an hour is helpful to the community to make it a better place. . . . There’s always a volunteer opportunity for (students) to get involved and that this community is in need of a lot, but with their help, it could definitely improve.”
Ball said there are volunteer opportunities for every WSU student.
“There are options and choices for all students to take time to explore and discover opportunities that really appeal to them. Volunteering is less about the time spent performing an activity (and) more about the impact you make on yourself and others within that time.”