By Jen Ross, director of CU-Boulder's Volunteer Resource Center
This is an exciting year for the Volunteer Resource Center. VRC, along with the support of Residence Life, is working to build a culture of volunteerism in the residence halls and across the CU-Boulder campus. VRC is also working on one of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Deb Coffin’s five pillars; a Day of Service for all first year students.
This past Aug. 25, 120 first year students volunteered with five Boulder county organizations during the pilot Day of Service. Boulder County CareConnect’s Yard Busters program was among these organizations. Yard Busters is a local non-profit organization that provides services to the elderly and people living with disabilities. Most residents that Boulder County CareConnect serves have fixed annual incomes of approximately $12,000. In addition, these residents run the risk of being evicted or fined by their landlord or home owners association if they do not keep up on their yard work.
The work the students completed during CU’s Day of Service for these residents would normally cost around $210 per hour, making it an unaffordable service for most residents. After the event, one of the residents called Boulder County CareConnect in tears to express her gratitude for the work the volunteers completed. Her husband had just moved into a nursing home, and she was physically unable to complete the work herself.
Give A Day, another VRC service day that began two years ago, is a great way for individuals and groups to volunteer in their local community. In light of our new collaboration and our efforts to host service days that reach the needs of the community throughout the school year, the VRC has added additional days to give back. We are currently hosting a Give A Day on the first Saturday of each month. The last Give A Day for this academic year will take place on Saturday, March 2. To sign up as an individual or as a group for Give A Day, please visit our website. The day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Students meet at the UMC where they eat breakfast, pick up their T-shirt, engage in an ice breaker with the group they will serve with, and catch their bus to their service project.
Our hope is that Give A Day will support Day of Service and act as a way for students across campus to stay involved throughout the year. We want students to feel connected to their campus community and their surrounding communities; ultimately we want students to connect to an even broader sense of community and thereby gain an understanding that social and environmental justice issues are part of the larger context of what we make a part of our every day lives.
We have done a lot of research on best practices, are working with a steering committee that represents campus wide constituents, and this past fall we visited UCLA to check out their Volunteer Day. In lieu of our visit, we have created two leadership opportunities (project leaders and task captains) for the 2013 Day of Service that will take place on Aug. 24. Project leaders and task captain positions are open to all students, staff and faculty. For more information on these positions and/or to apply, visit our website.