According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 63.4 million people a year volunteer within their community. Year by year, the numbers continue to increase, and organizations continue to reach out to spread awareness. At the Community Service Fair on Friday, September 10, these groups gathered in the Thwing Ballroom to encourage those numbers – and sure enough, many of the students on the Case Western Reserve campus came, hoping to join the growing statistic.
When one thinks of community service, the thought usually leads to the bigger organizations – the ones that have stretched across our nation and even touched the world. However, it’s harder to hear of the smaller local efforts and of their achievements.
One of these local groups at the Community Service Fair was Hands-On Northeast Ohio, whose chapter was founded recently in 2007. This organization helps volunteers find opportunities that they would enjoy participating in.Their representative at the fair, Kirsten McClain, said, “The organization sports a variety of different service activities, like dog walking, sorting food, and tutoring, by having contracts with the larger organizations.” By holding such an assortment of different events, it allows for volunteers to pick and choose what they want to do and be unbound to one particular organization.
Vashti Aguilar, a freshman, was one of many students that decided to participate in the fair. She said, “I expected to acquire a lot of brochures and information on the surrounding organizations, [but] the fair was very organized and informative.” She mentioned that she was looking to participate in the Red Cross and with Habitat for Humanity, but saw that there were many more different organizations out there that existed. Among those were Wigs for Kids, Homeless Stand Down, and the Project Step-Up Tutoring program that is hosted by the Case Center for Civic Engagement and Learning.
But even with these organizations, there were other booths that did not offer opportunities to volunteer, but rather promoted opportunities to see events within the community. The Cleveland Institute of Music’s stand provided information to their free concerts, on which Chris Haff-Paluck, the Director of Performance and Community Programs, comments that, “They are the best musical opportunities.” It includes a wide selection of music, including classical and jazz, and they perform multiple times throughout the year. So while they didn’t offer volunteer opportunities, it was no less exciting. “Besides,” Paluck says, “it’s hard to beat for a date. The dates love it, and it’s free.”