CCEL hosts service fair to encourage student involvement


courtesy Angela Lowery

Students at last year’s Center for Civic Engagment and Learning’s service fair visit booths to learn about volunteer opportunities on campus and the local Cleveland area. The event, which occurs once every semester, will be held next Friday, Sept. 13, in Thwing’s ballroom.

Sarah Groft, Staff Reporter

Friday, Sept. 13, the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) will be offering students a chance to learn more about volunteer opportunities at its community service fair in the Thwing ballroom. The event is held at both the beginning of the fall and spring semesters and invites local nonprofit organizations, campus student service groups and postgraduate programs to show students and faculty the different volunteer opportunities available in the Cleveland area.

Angela Lowery, the Student Service Coordinator at CCEL, recommends students attend the service fair because it is a good way to “explore different volunteer options and find the opportunity that fits best with the individuals’ interests and skills.”

This semester, University Hospitals, Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Great Lakes Science Center and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland will be among the many groups represented. The American Red Cross will also be on-campus on Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the 1914 Lounge running a blood drive.

CCEL offers much more than just the service fair. One of their projects, Project STEP-UP, is a tutor training program that will occur on Saturday, Sept. 7. By attending this training session, students will be able to tutor in local elementary and high schools. Program STEP-UP works closely with programs such as the Church of the Covenant, America Reads, America Counts and Ohio Reads. In some situations, students may use their work study awards to tutor in local schools.

Every semester, CCEL sponsors Saturday of Service, a day devoted to different volunteer activities. This year’s Saturday of Service should be announced soon for the fall semester.

Another opportunity that CCEL offers is Alternative Break. In place of spring break, students can take trips to different states or countries in order to complete service projects. This year, CCEL is offering trips to two different areas.

CCEL will be continuing its tradition of sending a group to New Orleans, as it has for the past ten years. The group, along with volunteers from across the nation, addresses issues such as education, hunger, homelessness, environmental restoration and access to healthcare. In the past, the group has partnered with the Lower Ninth Ward Village, New Orleans City Park, HandsOn New Orleans, GROW DAT! Youth Farm and the Roots of Music after-school program.

The other CCEL trip will have students heading to Nicaragua to work with Waves of Hope, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve community infrastructure with construction projects and after-school projects with a local youth group. More information about these trips can be found on the CCEL website.

The CCEL office is also currently looking for students to be members of the Civic Engagement Scholars program. This program is open to all students. Members of the program are required to complete at least 50 hours of service, attend the civic engagement scholars program kick-off training and mid-year training, attend three community-focused programs during the academic year, write a final reflection about their scholars experience and maintain good academic standing throughout the course of the program. Applications for this program will be accepted until Sept. 17 and can be found at

Daniel Doherty, a member of the current CCEL Executive Board, said he feels he really benefitted from his time at CCEL. “CCEL really helped me to connect with Cleveland as a first-year because the Scholars and Fellows opportunities brought me to areas I may not have visited.”

Students who are interested in getting involved can apply for the Civic Engagement Scholars program. Additionally, CCEL has an Executive Council made of student leaders. Members of this council are selected through a competitive process at the end of the spring semester. They are required to have been involved in at least one semester of CCEL programming. For students who are interested in service but not in joining one of these groups can find weekly service opportunities in the CCEL Serves schedule on the CCEL website. These weekly events consist of events such as helping children with homework, assisting refugee children during after-school programs, completing fun projects with seniors and helping at the local food bank.