CCEL announces new volunteer opportunities


Courtesy of Janice Gerda

The CCEL office provides plenty of opportunities to get civically engaged, including new community service trips.

Zachary Treseler, Staff Writer

Recently, the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) has introduced new community service trips that members of the Case Western Reserve University community can partake in. Starting last semester, these fall under two unique categories, CCEL Serves and CCEL pop-ups.

Danielle Hickman, an assistant director with CCEL, recently mentioned how the office is “thrilled to host three new semester commitment sites.”

With the first of these events starting this coming Saturday, many of the CCEL semester commitment sites focus on tutoring across northeast Ohio. New semester commitment sites include a Lunch Buddies program at Bolton Elementary School and ACT Tutoring with Minds Matter Cleveland, which will join the already existing semester commitment sites at the Lee Branch of the Cleveland Heights Library, Seeds of Literacy and AdvantageCLE. 

The Cleveland Heights Library and AdvantageCLE are geared more towards working with younger children (kindergarten through eighth grade and kindergarten through fourth grade, respectively) in subjects including literacy, skill building and STEM-related topics. Minds Matter Cleveland focuses on high school students, mostly from low-income backgrounds, who are preparing for the ACT. Bolton Elementary’s Lunch Buddies program allows volunteers to work with students in the third through fifth grades during their lunch break, playing games and providing support and mentorship for them. 

These opportunities are branded as Semester Serves programs, which Hickman explains are “sites that require a weekly commitment of one semester.” There are also flexible commitment sites, “where volunteers can sign up to serve once or as often as their schedules allow.” These sights are known as flex and pop-up opportunities, the latter of which becomes available when local CCEL partners have a special event or project that requires assistance. 

“CCEL offers students the opportunity to assist, but it may be a one-time opportunity that is not available regularly,” Hickman explains. “Pop-ups allow students to learn about a new organization and get to know the Cleveland area in a one-time opportunity.”

Hickman explains that CCEL has scheduled opportunities for the spring semester at “the Hunger Network’s food pantry in midtown Cleveland, sorting and organizing books for the Kid’s Book Bank and serving a community meal at A Place at the Table.” In addition, there are flex opportunities scheduled at Medwish International and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Many of these opportunities involve helping with internal operations, such as sorting items for MedWish International, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Kids Book Bank. In addition, volunteers at sites such as The Hunger Network will be actively engaging and working with local Clevelanders.

For all of these programs, Hickman reminds students that CCEL Serves provides both “daily service opportunities and transportation to undergraduate and graduate students interested in volunteering at area nonprofits alongside a small group of peers.”

In addition to the regularly scheduled semesterly excursions, Hickman also notes that CCEL is bringing back CWRUinCLE, which will “allow students to get out and explore the Cleveland community.” One such program she mentioned is the Rid-All Green Partnership, which provides the local community with fresh produce through urban farming and teaches about their practices. Of course, CCEL would provide transportation, cover the cost of the activity and provide leaders to take students to the sites.

A big push for CCEL is its annual Saturday of Service, which will occur on Mar. 25, where students are encouraged to sign up with friends and work with a local community partner. Hickman expects opportunities in “spring cleanup projects, painting projects, sorting and organizing activities, serving a community meal and with whatever else a community partner might need assistance.” Registration for these events will open in March.