Friday, September 14, 2012

Fair offers local volunteer options

By Jesse Major, Guest Writer
First-year Peyton Schmidt searched for her chance to volunteer in the community at the volunteer fair on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

While walking through the Anderson University Center, she was able to talk to representatives from approximately 10 organizations that offer volunteer opportunities to students like Schmidt.

This would not be her first time volunteering.

Schmidt previously volunteered for L’Arche Farm and Garden in Tacoma, which provides farm and garden work to people with developmental disabilities. After her experience, she was looking for more opportunities to volunteer.

Schmidt attended the involvement fair earlier this fall and didn’t find the volunteering options she was looking for.

The volunteer fair was a "great opportunity to find out about volunteer options," Schmidt said. "I really like helping people and supporting my community in any way I can."

Although she likes supporting her community, Schmidt said she is limited by not owning a car.

Joel Zylstra, director of the center for community engagement and service, said there are many options to volunteer locally and the CCES provides transportations to many events.

Not only are a lot of volunteering opportunities near bus routes, many of them are near campus as well, Zylstra said.

One opportunity includes service through Pacific Lutheran University partner Safe Streets, an organization with a mission of empowering individuals, families, youth, neighbors and organizations to create safe neighborhoods.

Through Safe Streets, students can help promote a positive community around campus, Zylstra said.

Tutoring students at Keithley Middle School is also an option, Zylstra added. When tutoring, he said, volunteers can connect with the students they are helping and can see the challenges that the children have overcome.

In some Parkland schools, 100 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch, Zylstra said. Students who volunteer may be able to connect a volunteer experience to experiences in the classroom and the broader PLU experience.

"Learning is at the center of volunteering," Zylstra said. "It’s one thing to just volunteer for a couple of hours. It’s another to think about it in relation to classes."

Junior Laticia Gingras, co-director for CCES, said that as citizens PLU students should contribute to society.

At PLU, students are privileged and should break out of the ‘Lute Dome,’ Gingras said. PLU students have the potential to change the perception of Parkland through volunteering, she added.