Today’s guest post is from Katie Mang, the Member Engagement Manager for The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is from Northeast Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a BA in Interpersonal Communication and M.Ed. in Higher Education. Katie’s interests include civic engagement, higher education, social media, writing and baking. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Each year The Points of Lights Institute hosts National Volunteer Week, encouraging citizens across the nation to get involved in community service and civic engagement. This year, National Volunteer Week falls April 10th – 16th. This week serves as a reminder to get involved in giving back all year long.
There are many reasons to get involved in service projects. It can be a rewarding experience, as well as a great way to meet new people. You can get involved in civic projects to learn more about a subject or organization and gain new skills. You might even learn something about yourself!
Like many others, you may already be interested in service but wondering, how do I begin? Your local campus community is a great place to get started. There are a large number of campus organizations that are dedicated to service or already deeply involved in projects and seeking new volunteers. Whether you are a student, staff or faculty member you can provide your skills, resources and time to really make a difference. You can choose to go straight to the club or organization, or ask your Student Activities or Civic Engagement/Service-Learning Office for information and direction.
Before making a commitment to service, you should also consider the following:
- Where does service fit into your class, work and extracurricular schedule?
- What unique skills do you hope to bring to a service project?
- Are there certain organizations, locations or populations that you would like to seek out specifically?
- Would you prefer a one-time service project, or are you available to make a long-term commitment?
After you have found an organization(s) that fits your schedule and goals, you may also want to ask some questions of the service coordinator:
- What opportunities are available? How can you get involved?
- What is the mission of the organization? How do they serve others?
- Are there any training or orientation opportunities? Are there any other requirements before you can get involved (background checks, homework, references)?
- What can I expect when I serve? Who is the leader at the site?
You can choose to make one commitment with an organization, or try a few projects until you find one that suits you just right. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, as these opportunities tend to be some of the best experiences. Share your stories, ask questions, encourage others to join and reflect after your project is complete. Most importantly, remember that service is a two way experience. Not only will you help those that you service, but they will also be surely to touch you, too!