As a busy college student, taking time to volunteer in one’s community may seem like a stretch.
That small amount of time, according to Education and Outreach Director of Keep Omaha Beautiful Meridith Dillon, is a “rewarding experience” because local volunteers can truly “see the impact of their service and feel like they’ve met a real need.”
That’s why the University of Nebraska at Omaha Honors Program chose a Keep Omaha Beautiful event for their Common Reader Experience held Saturday.
“We wanted a service event that would be meaningful for students,” Honors Program Director Lucy Morrison said. “Working within the city that surrounds the university seemed like a really good way for UNO students to give back.”
Keep Omaha Beautiful is one of the oldest environmental nonprofits in Omaha. It was founded in 1959.
Dedicated to waste reduction, sustainable community beautification and education on recycling, Keep Omaha Beautiful cleans and maintains Omaha’s public areas. In addition to its programs, the nonprofit also provides education for students from preschool to college levels.
On the morning of the event, participating students met at 8 a.m. in the Sapp Field House to be transported by buses to various parks and trails in Omaha.
They spent a few hours cleaning up and exploring these areas of Omaha before returning to UNO for reflection and lunch.
Morrison hopes the event, along with the students’ teamwork, has worked to unite the UNO community and will extend to the larger Omaha community as well.
“The students can start the rest of their weekend knowing they contributed to a good place,” Morrison said.
Patrick Hodson, a UNO sophomore studying business administration, said volunteering as a student is important because it allows students to explore areas outside of campus and meet new people.
As a volunteer discussion leader for the event, Hodson wanted to help incoming freshman “think critically about an important issue facing our generation.”
Hodson encourages his classmates to volunteer for nonprofits like Keep Omaha Beautiful in order to break up the strain of coursework while simultaneously benefitting the Omaha community.
In reference to student volunteers, Dillon claims Keep Omaha Beautiful is an ideal nonprofit because it allows volunteers flexibility. Students may choose from many different volunteer opportunities and schedule their own time.
Additionally, the programs provide a way for students to stay active and work with their hands.
“It’s great for busy students who have a passion for community service,” Dillon said.
As the Omaha community develops in the future, Keep Omaha Beautiful will develop as the community’s needs change.
According to Dillon, the nonprofit is currently undergoing strategic planning in order to “address current and future environmental issues.”
The community will see Keep Omaha Beautiful programs being redefined and changed over the next several years.
The nonprofit currently has an “energetic and innovative new team who is excited to serve Omaha and work with volunteers who also want to make a difference,” Dillon said.
To sign up as a volunteer, visit keepomahabeautiful.com.