Volunteer fair promotes student involvement in community, an editoral review of service learning at UNO

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Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway The UNO Volunteer Fair occurs twice a year and gives students a great opportunity to connect with and help the community
Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway
The UNO Volunteer Fair occurs twice a year and gives students a great opportunity to connect with and help the community

By Seth Arter, Contributor

On Oct. 2, the University of Nebraska at Omaha held its annual volunteer fair. Located on the second floor of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, the fair featured 30 non-profit organizations looking for volunteers.
The fair gives UNO students, staff and citizens of Omaha the opportunity to be involved with non-profit organizations and charities. After swiping their MavCard to track how many people were there, UNO students were granted access to talk to any and every organization in attendance.
Sponsored by UNO’s college of Public Affairs and Community Service, the volunteer fair has a wide-range of opportunities to match one’s volunteer interests.
Since 2003, UNO students and staff have volunteered an equivalent of more than 1 million dollars in hours. This volunteer fair offers not only the chance to give back, but so much more.
By getting involved in UNO and the community, students can network to meet friends and make connections with leaders of organizations. This is helpful for everyone, but particularly to freshmen, or those new to campus who may not know many people.
By working with others to reach a common goal, individuals who volunteer tend to make friends and acquaintances easier than those who don’t volunteer.
Not only does this help UNO students socially, but professionally as well. For many reasons, those who volunteer in college are more likely to get a job, especially if volunteering for a company or organization in one’s career field of interest.
The volunteer fair puts students in direct contact with supervisors of volunteer programs, which gives them opportunities to network. Students can develop references, which is key to a good résumé when preparing for a job interview.
Social and career networking is just one part of volunteering. By volunteering, students may also develop and improve skills vital not only to a workplace, but for everyday life.
For example, those who have been working in the same career field for many years may develop new career skills or problem-solving methods by volunteering and working with a diverse group of people.
Although volunteering is good for everyone, it is especially good for those in college who may be unsure of which career path is right for them.
According to VolunteerMatch, a website that creates volunteering partnerships, by joining different organizations or clubs, students are more likely to find a career field that interests them versus someone who doesn’t participate in volunteer activities. Through meeting supervisors or volunteer leaders, students participating in volunteer activities will develop relationships with those who could be good outlets for potential job opportunities.
The UNO Student Service and Leadership Collaborative is a student-led program that was instrumental in the success of the Volunteer Fair. The program was created to organize and coordinate university-wide community service and volunteering opportunities.
The goal of this program is to help students create positive social change in the community and to develop new skills that will benefit them during their college years and beyond. The program puts out a calendar of University Service Days each year.
The events include: 9/11 Remembrance Day (Sept. 11), Fall Volunteer Fair (Oct. 9), Three Days of Service (Oct. 18, 20, 21), Make a Difference Day (Oct. 25), Veterans Day (Nov. 11), World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 19), Spring Volunteer Fair (Feb. 24), Seven Days of Service (March 21, 23-28) and Global Youth Service Day (April 17, 18).

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