Make your mark: Volunteer opportunities to make our city a better place

By Victoria Lane

@vida_lane

Volunteering while attending IUPUI might be voluntary for some, but for others it is a necessity. Students who receive IUPUI scholarships are sometimes required to maintain a certain amount of service hours every academic year in order to retain the scholarship.

“As a campus, we emphasize the importance and benefits for students to volunteer.  It has been said that community engagement is a part of our campus DNA.  IUPUI is a metropolitan campus that is located in the city and we have a long history of valuing partnerships with organizations near campus,” says Julie Hatcher, executive director of the Center for Service & Learning at IUPUI.

“Volunteering is one way for students to understand the campus and its commitment to Indianapolis. Volunteering introduces students to new organizations, provides team building experiences, and broadens perspectives. It’s a way to contribute back to the community on behalf of university as a part of receiving the scholarships,” Hatcher says.

Students looking for ways to volunteer, contribute to causes they care about, or bolster their services hours are encouraged to check out the many opportunities that IUPUI provides including the Office of Student Involvement located on the third floor of the Campus Center.

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Within the Office of Student Involvement, students are able to speak to other students one-on-one to discuss causes and events they are passionate about from environmental issues to poverty and everything in between.

Not only does IUPUI provide in-person services through the Office of Student Involvement, but there are also other resources, including several campus events such as the IUPUI Weeks of Welcome that cater to a variety of interests and causes.

“There are lots of different service events. If you are looking for a short-term event to try out volunteering, and the short-term service events such as the United Way Day of Caring or Dr. Martin Luther King Day are good for that,” says Hatcher.

Some popular organizations, ongoing and one-time events on campus include:

Jags in the Streets - a volunteer organization for students and staff alike that coordinates opportunities and highlights organizations throughout the city (http://community.iupui.edu/community/jagsinthestreets/)

Paw’s Pantry - an ongoing student run pantry created in collaboration with the Center for Service and Learning, the Office of Student Involvement, and the Student Organization for Alumni Relations (http://pawspantry.iupui.edu/)

IUPUI United Way Day of Caring - a one day event highlighting the campus’ partnership with the United Way of Central Indiana. Teams of IUPUI students, staff, and faculty volunteer at service agencies across central Indiana work together to improve lives and shape the community (csl.iupui.edu/partnerships/student-service/events/day-caring)

Alternative Fall and Spring Breaks - Fall and Spring Alternative Breaks take place over IUPUI’s academic fall and spring breaks and give students the opportunity to lend a helping hand in different locations throughout the country (http://csl.iupui.edu/partnerships/student-service/events/alternative)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service - This day of service honors one of the greatest freedom activists of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hundreds of IUPUI students, faculty, staff, and community members volunteer together at community sites across Indianapolis as a way to honor Dr. King’s commitment to service and social justice. (http://csl.iupui.edu/partnerships/student-service/events/dr-king.shtml)

César Chávez Day of Service - This service event not only recognizes the work of César Chávez but celebrates it with a day service in our community. (http://csl.iupui.edu/partnerships/student-service/events/chavez.shtml)

Additional information can be found using several IUPUI online resources which include a bi-weekly email listserv, several social media accounts, and a website listing IUPUI registered organizations.

“To sign up for the listserv, students, faculty, and staff can email commserv@iupui.edu and ask to sign up.  Volunteer opportunities are also shared through our social media - Facebook: Volunteer at IUPUI and Twitter - @IUPUICSCE,” says Jennifer Halford, executive director of the Office of Student Involvement and program director of the Center on Service & Learning.

“There are a number of student organizations that identify as service organizations.  A current list of those that are registered can be found at the student affairs website (http://studentaffairs.iupui.edu/involved/student-orgs/registration1/rso.shtml).  They are organized based upon how they identify [i.e. volunteer and service organizations],” says Halford.

Whether you are searching for a short-term volunteer opportunity or long-term philanthropic engagement, the opportunities both on and off campus are an important experience to have, especially as an IUPUI student.

“With philanthropy, we know that if you give a person an opportunity to be engaged and they find it to be a satisfying experience, they will volunteer more often. The volunteer opportunities provided to students are an important part of being a scholar at IUPUI, and it’s a way to pay it forward as a scholarship recipient” says Hatcher. 

IUPUI provides many internal and external opportunities for students to volunteer which can be located on the newly renovated school website - http://www.iupui.edu/city/engagement or by visiting http://csl.iupui.edu/ where you can choose causes and events that you feel passionate about.