In reaction to small numbers of student volunteers, Towson University is hoping to enhance participation by providing more community service opportunities on and off campus.
“You as college students have so much to give and so much to learn,” Towson University 2008 graduate and current Coordinator of Community Service Corinne DeRoberts said. “I just don’t think it [volunteering] is part of the culture.”
DeRoberts’ position as Coordinator of Community Service is the first of its kind offered on campus. Applications are now being accepted for five new Service Leaders positions on campus. Their roles will include planning First Fridays, a day of service where students from different groups travel outside of campus to help in the community as well as planning other service events.
DeRoberts hopes that these positions will inspire more students to serve.
“It [volunteering] gives you different experiences that others may not have on their resume,” she said. “It can show your commitment and dedication to something.”
To increase student participation in community service, student groups are required to complete community service hours in order to remain SGA budgeted.
“It’s an opportunity to get them off campus sharing their passions with others and team building,” DeRoberts said.
On Saturday, April 20, about 800 students took part in “The Big Event,” a day of service for organizations in the Baltimore community. According to DeRoberts, it saves non-profits about $20 per hour and this year in total the student volunteers saved the organizations about $20,000.
According to DeRoberts, they are currently trying to find solutions to problems students have with volunteering, such as transportation, money and time constraints.
Freshman film major Lane Walbert said that she does not have time for volunteering or access to transportation to volunteer off campus.
“I don’t see opportunities to volunteer advertised on campus,” she said. “You have to really look for them. I would be more likely to volunteer if I saw more opportunities advertised.”
DeRoberts said that students can get many different things out of volunteering and what they get out of it can depend on their background.
“You learn a lot about diversity and social issues and how you can make a difference,” she said. “When I was in college I didn’t know half of the social issues I do now.”
For example, when she drove through Baltimore City, she said the experience was a real “eye-opener.”
“I realized I could call my dad anytime and there are people who can’t do that,” she said.
Freshman health care management major Marisol Pesquera volunteers every summer in Puerto Rico at a camp for inner city kids run by her church. She also assists her parents in fundraising for an organization to help an orphanage in Bolivia.
Pesquera said that she thinks other college students should volunteer because they could learn a lot about themselves and what they could give back to the community.
“I’ve learned just a lot about how I work with other people,” Pesquera said. “I’ve learned that doing the smallest things can make a huge difference in someone’s life and that changes the way that I interact with other people as well.”
“I am one person in the world, but I can make a change for somebody else,” DeRoberts said. “I would love to see every student participate in service while they’re here.”