On most days, if anyone was to visit the atrium of Weber State University’s Shepherd Union, they would see a steady stream of students coming and going to classes. On Jan. 27, the hustle and bustle of students booking it to their classes was replaced with the activity of students perusing booths on either side of the atrium that advertised different volunteer programs.
The Center for Community Engaged Learning holds a volunteer fair each year at the beginning of the fall and winter semesters. Jenny Frame, the CCEL Community Partner Coordinator, said that the Center invited about two dozen of their top partners to come to the fair. Each volunteer program was given a table, from which members could give out pamphlets and prizes while explaining what their program did for the community.
“We see our partners as co-educators to teach about community engagement and community problems,” Frame said. “We have a lot of problems, and a lot of these different programs address those needs. So we’ve tried to make [the fair] fun and interactive, hoping students will find a good fit.”
Chris Dammer, a mentoring specialist for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, said that his program is unique because it matches children in need of guidance and one-on-one attention with an adult volunteer. Dammer said that, right now, the program has about 200 to 250 children on a waiting list, so volunteers are in high demand.
“I personally love college students as volunteers,” Dammer said. “Weber is just a hot bed of smart, kind, college-age kids that children can look up to.”
Another local program that works with children is Youth Impact. This program provides a safe environment where underprivileged children can go to play and learn.
Kaylie Peterson, volunteer coordinator for Youth Impact, said that people can volunteer doing something they really like or feel most comfortable in whether it be tutoring, doing crafts, sharing a skill or playing games with the children volunteers are needed and welcome.
If students aren’t interested in working with children, there are other programs that greatly depends on student volunteers. The Get Out And Live (GOAL) foundation is a program that creates athletic events and provides volunteers for national athletic events that come to Ogden.
“Last year, our first five events were run by only Weber State student volunteers,” Clairesse Miljour, the volunteer manager for GOAL, said.
These are just a few of the many opportunities for service available for students in the Ogden community. From working with animals at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to helping build homes for low-income families with Habitat for Humanity, there is a wide variety volunteer options available in the Ogden community for students to take advantage of.
Though many students are required to complete hours performing community service for classes or majors, volunteering goes far beyond that. Mitchell Sutherlands, a junior in the pre-dental program, said that he volunteers with Habitat for Humanity just because he can, and since he joined the program, he has been able to help create safe homes for families by doing things like laying tile and installing sprinkler systems.
“Volunteering allows for students to have fun and grow themselves at the same time,” Dammer said. “They can form friendships and make a big impact.”