UNA Volunteer Fair Encourages Students to Give Back to the Community

Jan. 6, 2011


FLORENCE, Ala. – While the struggling economy calls for an increase in volunteerism among college-aged students, the University of North Alabama Office of Student Engagement is working to meet the needs of the local community and improve the world by offering a volunteer fair for students Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The fair, which will bring up to 20 local agencies to the GUC atrium, will enable students to obtain information, ask questions and sign up to volunteer with agencies of their choice. The fair will offer students of all academic disciplines the opportunity to acquire a sense of purpose and gain experience for their future careers.

Students who have an interest in healthcare, administration, communication, animals, children and more will find their niche at the volunteer fair, which is open to students with a wide range of interests and skill sets. The agencies, which greatly depend on volunteerism throughout the year, look to UNA regularly for college-aged students who are willing to give back to the community.

“I want students to come and get information because you never know what you might be interested in,” said Jennifer C. Brown, assistant director of volunteerism and leadership. “It’s about helping somebody out, networking with others, talking to people from different backgrounds, dealing with conflict in some cases and seeing the reward of what you’re doing. You never know when you might be that person who is seeking help, so I tell students to not just see [volunteering] as an obligation. It’s about leaving a mark and making a difference in someone’s life.”

Brown said the fall 2010 volunteer fair, which was the first the Office of Student Engagement organized at UNA, brought in around 50 students to the event, which was held in the GUC banquet halls. For the upcoming spring volunteer fair, organizers hope at least 100 students will stop and participate as it will take place in a more centralized location on campus.

Brown’s primary goal for 2011 is to further establish an intentional volunteer program by increasing the number of student volunteers at UNA. In addition to revamping their Web site to include more information on agency and volunteer needs, she hopes more students will turn in their service hours so she can better track the amount of volunteer work UNA students are completing.

UNA sophomore Kaylie Watts, a volunteer service-learning assistant with the Office of Student Engagement, is working behind the scenes to organize the fair and update volunteer information. Watts, who participated in the fall 2010 fair, believes volunteering can help students find their purpose in life.

“Students need to definitely come out and get information,” she said. “Volunteering made me realize what I want to do for the rest of my life. You’ll know if you go out and experience the different kinds of volunteer work that are out there.”

For more information, contact Brown in the Office of Student Engagement at 256-765-4248 or jlculler@una.edu.